The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Testing for varroa mites

Varroa mite test stripsI was a bit concerned by the bee hive that dropped 540 varroa mites in three days when I tested in the middle of September, so I decided to do a re-test and see what the mite populations are like in early November.  This time, all I had on hand were some four inch wide strips of cardboard that are a byproduct of the way we package our pre-made chicken waterers, so I went ahead and lathered those with petroleum jelly and stuck them under the screened bottom boards of our hives.

Varroa mite populations in three hives over timeThree days later, I counted mites and did a bit of math to determine what the total mite fall would have been if I had put something under the entire bottom board.  As you can see from this graph, the hive with all of the varroa mites in September dropped down to a far more manageable level (223 mites) in November.  None of the other hives have mite populations in the danger zone at all.

Most sources report that mite numbers rise as autumn progresses, so I'm not quite sure why I saw declining varroa mite numbers.  I assume that as workers die and aren't replaced, the hive hosts fewer varroa mites as well.  Regardless of the reason for low mite populations in my hives, I'm happy to be heading into the winter without chemical pesticides in the hive.

Ready to think outside the box and keep other members of your homestead healthy?  Our homemade chicken waterer always stays clean, so your hens stay healthy.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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