Bee Gym Review – Does It Help Bees Self-Groom & Remove Varroa?

Bee Gym Review – Does It Help Bees Self-Groom & Remove Varroa?


The Bee Gym claims to help honeybees to self-groom, scratch and rub to remove varroa mites from their bodies.  Is it too good to be true?

Roger With Bee Gym
Roger With Bee Gym

In a limited trial, a well-respected apicultural research group finds significantly lower estimated mite population in the hive with the Bee Gym than the other hives and significantly increased mite drop under the Bee Gym.  They make an initial conclusion that the “Bee Gym has been beneficial but many more similar trials are needed for a considered conclusion”.

This blog post describes how the Bee Gym works and links to this independent research trial and evidence.  It is also a call for the National Bee Unit or University to undertake some further research.

How does it work?

I became aware of the Bee Gym in Vita’s February newsletter and they very kindly sent me a few to pop into my hives.

In summary, the Bee Gym contains a 10cm square plastic frame with a wire and paddles / flippers that the honeybees can rub against in order to self-groom and remove varroa.  It’s a hygienic bee’s dream!  Just writing about it makes me want to have a good scratch!  To use it you simply slide it through the entrance and onto your open mesh floor.

Here is a video of it in action.  There is a lot of rubbing going on … though I don’t see any varroa mites falling off.

There is also an informational graphic:

Bee Gym Infographic
Bee Gym Infographic

Is there any evidence that it works?

There has not been much independent research into the Bee Gym but one trial is worth a mention by the Devon Apricultural Research Group (DARG).  This group have good credentials as it was established by a number of individuals including the author and lecturer, Ron Brown, and Peter Donovan of Buckfast Abbey.

In summary their results show:

  • Significantly lower estimated mite population in the hive with the Bee Gym than the other hives
  • Significantly increased mite drop under the Bee Gym as compared with other hives

And in conclusion:

  • “My initial conclusion is that for this trial the Bee Gym has been beneficial but many more similar trials are needed for a considered conclusion. I shall certainly carry on with this trial using more colonies and Bee Gyms in 2017.”  Richard Ball, Chairman DARG

I look forward to hearing more from this group on their experience in 2017.  It would be great if the National Bee Unit or a University could get involved.

Their trial can be downloaded here.  It’s a two pager.  Bee Gym – DARG research trial.

The Bee Gym website also publishes some results: Bee Gym Results.

How much is it?

It is currently retailing at £12.61 in the UK and USA.  Follow this link to Vita to find suppliers and more information: Bee Gym Info & Suppliers.

Read More

  • Vita – Visit this website for more information and to find suppliers
  • Thermosolar Hive – I expect to receive two of these varroa eliminating hives shortly – this is my review
  • Varroa management – My pages on how to control varroa


The beekeeping season is in full swing. I am very excited.  I have flying bees in all 4 hives.

Bee Gym Packaging
Bee Gym Packaging

The Five Hour Beekeeper

The Five Hour Beekeeper

Traditional Approach To Beekeeping

To date I have basically been following what I shall call the “traditional approach to beekeeping”.  This is detailed in My Beekeeping Calendar and involves a lot of activity and time.  It can be summarised as:

  1. Inspections every 9 days from May-August to reduce swarms
  2. Integrated approach to varroa management, including swarm culling and use of chemicals
  3. Production of liquid honey requiring a day of extraction
July 2015 - Middle Hive - Brood Frame
July 2015 – Middle Hive – Brood Frame

I have found myself too busy to do any of this particularly well resulting in what I call the “Low Intervention Approach”.

Low Intervention Approach To Beekeeping

  1. No swarm inspections – just catch the swarms as they happen.  This has been 80% successful (I caught 4 out of 5 swarms in 2016).
  2. Same integrated approach to varroa management as previous
  3. Move towards section honey
Eight Ross Rounds Sections (the 2016 haul)
Eight Ross Rounds Sections (the 2016 haul)

The Five Hour Beekeeper

In my desire to reduce the chemicals, reduce the effort further and spend more time observing the bees, my approach for 2017 is described below.  This has been massively helped by the Thermosolar Hive team providing me with two of their hives.  As a reminder, this hive allows increases in the temperature in the hive to kill 100% of varroa. (links below)

Thermosolar Hive - Ceiling & Sensors
Thermosolar Hive – Ceiling & Sensors

The Thermosolar hives I am receiving will have a 14×12 National brood body (this is where I will insert 4 drone frames), 1 super that I will put below the brood body (to create more worker bees) and two Ross Round supers to go above the brood box.

The approach can be summarised as follows (and their are relevant links at the end of this post):

  1. Anti-swarm approach to reduce swarming
  2. Thermosolar hive to eliminate varroa and improve bee health
  3. 100% section honey using Ross Rounds
  4. Observing the bees to determine if they have a queen, any disease
  5. Open a hive only when I need to

My first year will be a bit different as I move over to the Themosolar hive but generally the interventions will be:

  • Intervention 1: The first day it is 15C in Feb/Mar: inspect for disease, add 2 new drone comb frames to hives and remove mouseguards
  • Interventions 2 and 3 (optional if we get an early 20C day in the year): Complete a solar treatment and again a week later.  Note: the important solar treatment is in August.
  • Intervention 4: April: Add Two Ross Round Supers
  • Intervention 5: End July: Remove Ross Round Supers and remove drone comb to ends of hive
  • Interventions 6 and 7: August: Complete a solar treatment and again a week later
  • Intervention 8: September: Feed if required (I am aiming to not have to do this by removing supers early and having healthy bees)
  • Intervention 9: October/November: Add mouseguards

And generally observe the bees and take action if problems are evident.

In theory, each hive will take about 5 hours of effort per year, including harvesting, and allow more time to observe.  Let’s see what happens in practice.

Any thoughts at this stage to make my 2017 beekeeping, using the above approach, more likely to be successful?


I have received comments on beekeeping forum and I wanted to capture my further thoughts and actions:

1. Thermosolar Hive – I am going to contact my local government bee inspector, to see if they want to get involved in order to work out how to best test the thermosolar hive and to give independent results.  I want results to show impact on varroa and on the brood (and on drone sperm if possible).

2. Anti-swarm method – I’ll keep count of the swarms over the years using this method.  Results will somewhat speak for themselves, though it will also depend on how well I time insertion of drone comb, weather conditions, etc.

3. Ross Rounds – Richard Taylor (author) had a few approaches to developing section honey, two of these were about using shook swarms and regular swarms and one of them was about swarm management and taking the approach we generally take to make regular supers of honey.  I am going for the low intervention, latter, approach.  However, if I do catch any swarms (mine or someone else’s) I will be putting them into a super with QE above and flat comb throughout.  The results will speak for themselves (kind of, as my honey production has not been great yet in recent years)

More Information:

Technology & Beekeeping In 2016

Technology & Beekeeping In 2016

I am very hopeful that beehive design, technology, the cloud, science (understanding impact of pesticides on honey bees, honeybee diseases, etc.) and, last but not least, improved beekeeping practices, will make beekeeping better for honey bees and beekeepers over the next 5-10 years. I am confident that together these elements will be able to reduce harm from varroa, viruses, diseases and predators (like the Asian hornet) and parasites (like the small hive beetle).

The BBC have just published an article entitled “Can tech keep the world’s bees buzzing?” (external link).  It’s worth a read.

Thermosolar Hive - Ceiling & Sensors
Thermosolar Hive – Ceiling & Sensors

Let’s see where we are by 2020!

Read More

I have written about some innovations I have seen in recent years:

Thermosolar Hive – Further Answers & Video

Thermosolar Hive – Further Answers & Video

Conversations With Beekeepers

I am really interested and open-minded about this hive.  As a result I have engaged in conversations with the Thermosolar Hive team, beekeeping forums and leading honeybee experts to see what others think.

Thermosolar Hive - Ceiling & Sensors
Thermosolar Hive – Ceiling & Sensors

In summary, some beekeepers are hopeful and others are sceptical.  Some are very happy that inventors are looking at ways of combatting varroa without chemicals and some have concerns it will harm the brood or sufficiently heat the brood to kill the varroa.  I asked the Thermosolar Hive team about the concerns on harming brood and have added this to the expanded Q&A in the original Thermosolar Hive post.  There is also a video below of the frames holding together perfectly at 47C.

My key takeaway from all the conversations is the same as Professor Ratnieks, Labatory of Apiculture & Social Insects (LASI), leading expert on honeybees.  He needs to see the published University research and evidence before being more convinced by this new hive.

The research and paper have been produced by Palacky University in cooperation with University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic. The article has been finished and is now in the review phase. It should be ready later in 2016.

Four Minute Video By Jan Rája

Jan is a keen beekeeper and has been working closely with Roman for 16 years.  More about Jan here.  He has kindly made a special 4 minute video, below, for the readers of this blog if you would like to watch a video summary of the Thermosolar hive.

This video defaults to a small size on my blog, but there is a button to expand the view.

Interesting Videos On Thermosolar Hive website

When I get interested in something I like to dig into it.  Understand it. The videos below are indeed exciting in the results they appear to deliver.  The videos are good demonstrations of the hive in action.  Despite my excitement, the videos are anecdotal and we need to see the results of the University research.

This video demonstrates no varroa on brood of Thermosolar Hive:

This video demonstrates hive in action and no impact on wax and frames:

This video demonstrates 100% higher yield of honey production:

Read More

Flying Bees, 3,200 Varroa & Beesuits

Flying Bees, 3,200 Varroa & Beesuits

Flying Bees

“Hello, it’s me”.  It’s been 4 months since my last actual beekeeping post.  I’ve missed you all  Let’s start with the good news.

On some of the warmer, sunny days in February I have seen up to 20 bees at any one time flying into and out of one of my hives (middle hive) and even though the other hive does not appear to be releasing flying bees, I can see a cosy cluster when I peer through the narrow entrance.

The varroa boards also showed some decent activity in the hive, though more debris on the middle hive board, suggests more activity inside the hive.

Varroa mite board - 25 Feb 16
Varroa mite board – 26 Feb 16 – Near Hive
Varroa mite board - 25Feb16
Varroa mite board – 26 Feb 16 – Middle Hive

3,200 Varroa & How To Manage?

I’m looking for advice and thoughts on this part of my blog post, so please comment.

I treated my hives with Apiguard in August and then due to a high varroa count (calculator estimated I had up to 600), strong colonies and warm temperatures, I treated with MAQs in mid-October. All the details can be found in My Apiary Notes.

I did not treat with oxalic acid this winter for two reasons:

  1. Very mild winter and hence, higher levels of brood and oxalic acid less effective
  2. Scientific article on 5th January 2016 in which Professor Francis Ratnieks, Head of Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI), University of Sussex, said “… beekeepers should cease using the other two methods (“trickling” and “spraying”, in which a solution of oxalic acid is used) as they are harmful to the bees and less effective at killing Varroa”. Article: Scientists determine how to control parasite without harming bees

The sublimation technique, which is effective, requires expensive equipment and has to be used carefully, so as not to be hazardous to health.  I am not planning to use oxalic acid at all from now.

Counting the mite drop on the varroa board, the National Bee Unit varroa calculator is giving me a very broad estimate of varroa numbers from 400-3,900 and that I need to treat now or within 2 months.

My plan to reduce varroa ASAP, but I need to wait for warmer temperatures:

  1. If temperatures consistently above 15C and there is not a honey flow: Apiguard
  2. If temperatures consistently above 10C, colonies strong and honey flow: MAQs
  3. If colonies weak and temperatures low … I guess I’ll use Apiguard or perhaps just 1 MAQs strip.

I have Bee Cosies on my hives, so this increases the temperature in the hive, so perhaps this will help with the efficacy and early use of Apiguard or MAQs?

Thoughts on the strategy above much appreciated.

Bee Suits

It’s something I have been meaning to do but not got round to … but have finally put my bee suit through the washing machine.  It has a detachable hood, which is the only way to put a bee suit through a machine wash.  Any new beekeepers wondering what bee suits to buy I highly recommend Sherriff Bee Suits. These are hand-stitched in Cornwall, probably the best quality suits and the company has a really interesting story.  They are one of the sponsors of this blog and I have previously written about my experiences in finding a bee suit.

February In The Apiary

February In The Apiary

Hive Two

Let’s start with the good news.

Hive Two looks healthy.  20 bees flying around at any one time on sunny days and I placed the varroa count board under the hive for 6 days and counted 0 varroa. I suspect that another reason for it’s success is that it is protected from the wind and has an insulated roof. Photos below.

Hive Two - Flying Bees - Feb 2015
Hive Two – Flying Bees – Feb 2015
Hive Two - Varroa Board - 28 Feb 2015
Hive Two – Varroa Board – 28 Feb 2015

Zoom in below – see if you can find any mites:

Hive Two - Varroa Board - Close up
Hive Two – Varroa Board – Close up

This hive has been varroa-free since May 2014. I wrote about this under From 2,000 To 0 Varroa In 8 Months.

Hive Five

I wrote about Hive Five under Colony Post-Mortem. I have now placed old comb on the bonfire and the good frames are currently in the freezer. Conclusions: died of mite overload and cold.

Hive Three

This is the other hive I moved which could also be too exposed to the elements. I saw plenty of flying bees two weeks ago but it has been quieter recently. I counted 6 mites over 6 days on the varroa board which calculates a rough estimate of 50-400 mites and treatment required in 3-5 months.  There was not much debris on the board, see photo below, so I’m worried about Hive Three too.

Hive Three - Varroa Board - 28 Feb 2015 - 6 mites
Hive Three – Varroa Board – 28 Feb 2015 – 6 mites

Hive One

I think there are some bees in Hive One, but only a few. The Queen is five years old. I’m hoping she will supercede. I have yet to place a varroa board underneath. Photo of landing board below. Is the brown stuff dysentery or propolis or mud? And would some dysentery here be OK or bad?

Hive One - Dysentery - Feb 2015
Hive One – Dysentery?? – Feb 2015


It looks like I will have had a terrible winter. The reasons:

  1. In at least one hive, I failed to adequately control the varroa. I need to improve on this.
  2. In the dead hive and the two weak ones, despite good intentions, I have not insulated the roofs and they have porter bee escapes and vented roofs allowing air to flow through and chill the bees. I guess quite a few other new beekeepers have this problem, as this is how the hives arrive. I will use solid crown boards and insulated roofs next winter (but guess it is good to allow ventilation in summer)
  3. Moving the two hives 100m over rough ground would not have helped. I will only move nucs or swarms in the new out-apiary location rather than move full colonies

Hard lessons for someone who was hoping to expand to 6 hives this summer.

I’m also thinking that bee equipment suppliers should include roof insulation as standard and advice on closing off any vents over winter.

Colony Post-Mortem

Colony Post-Mortem – First 2015 Winter Loss

Post-mortem: An examination of a corpse in order to determine cause of death.

I need your help with the determination. There are comments and photos below and a video at the end.

Beekeeper Inspecting Dead BeesBeekeeper Inspecting Dead Bees
Me Inspecting Dead Bees

Was It A Weak Colony Going Into Winter?

No. This hive had 11 frames of bees in September and there were live bees in the hive over Christmas. That said, there only appeared to be about 500 dead bees in the hive (see photo above). Had the others absconded or died over the winter and been removed from hive by the live bees?

Was It Starvation?

I don’t think so. The frames were heavy with stores and I don’t think the bees could have been isolated.  A few bees had died head first in the comb – but very few.

14x12 Frame Of Stores
14×12 Frame Of Stores
Sugar Stored In Comb
Sugar Stored In Comb
Pollen In Frame. Is that white pollen on the left or sugar stores?
Pollen In Frame. Is that white pollen on the left or sugar stores?

Was It Disease?

I don’t think so. There is mould in the frames (see photo below) but no chalk dummies. There was no foul smell.

Mouldy Frame - But Not Chalk Dummies
Mouldy Frame – But Not Chalk Dummies
Frame With Pollen (& Sugar Stores?) On Left; Mouldy In Centre
Frame With Pollen (& Sugar Stores?) On Left; Mouldy In Centre

Was It Varroa?

Maybe. Despite a (low/middle) varroa count of 130 in mid-July (I counted 30 mites over 9 days in July and put this into the NBU calculator which estimated I had 130 mites), followed by Apiguard in August and Oxalic acid in December, there did appear to be lots of varroa on the frames and on the bees. See photo below – I count over 20 mites in a small area. Did this contribute to some sort of colony collapse?

Varroa On Frame
Varroa Mites On Frame

Did the Queen Stop Laying?

Maybe though I saw capped brood and dead bees about to emerge out of cells (see photo below). Cappings are a bit ragged which I think might mean varroa.

Dead bees emerging from cells
Dead bees emerging from cells
Dead bees emerging from cells (2)
Dead bees emerging from cells (2)

Did They Get Too Cold?

Maybe. The location is quite exposed. I have not put insulation under the roof of this hive. The entrance points into a prevailing wind (but it has narrow entrance plus mouseguard).

Was It The Move?

I moved them 100m over Christmas. Perhaps some of the bees returned to their old hive location?


A lot of maybes and no certainties. Frustrating. Such is the life of a beekeeper.

On a positive note, I feel like I have done as much as I could for this colony. It seemed to be strong (and aggressive).  Hence, I’m not as upset as when I feel like it has been my fault. Overall, I’m sorry for the bees that have gone through this experience and disappointed as it means less bees and honey this summer.

Video Of The Inspection

Hmmmm. Not sure if I should expose myself as such a novice? I struggle to just get the frames out. And I seem to be wearing a bee suit when there are no bees. Apologies for the out of focus shots of the comb.

And if you want more information, I have my notes for the last 12 months on this hive: Hive Five Record Card.

Over To You

  1. Grateful for your thoughts on why this colony died?
  2. What should I do with the frames that are mouldy in the hive? Leave them and let next bees clean it up? Or cut out the mould?
  3. On some of the photos above, is it white pollen or sugar stores?

Read More


Based on comments to-date and my experience of this colony, I am minded to think that the main issue was the high varroa count and that insulation and the move whilst not helpful were not the prime causes.

Lessons learnt: I’ll apply Apiguard correctly next time. I didn’t seal the hives as per the instructions to get the best efficacy.

Next steps:

  1. Freeze and reuse the frames (getting rid of the dark comb frames)
  2. Apply MAQS strips to the other hives when it gets to 10C and 6 frames of bees (I’m worried about the other colonies now)
  3. Insulate the roofs and get solid crown boards to reduce drafts in winter
  4. Perhaps insulate the walls further for the hives that are more exposed

From 2,000 to 0 Varroa In 8 Months

From 2,000 to 0 Varroa In 8 Months


I thought it worth posting the timeline that reduced the varroa to zero and put out a positive message that beekeepers can significantly reduce high varroa levels.

  • Hive Two went from counts of 2,000 varroa in December 2013 to zero varroa by the end of July 2014
  • My interventions: Open Mesh Floor (all year), Apiguard (Aug/Sep), Oxalic acid (Dec), drone culling (May)
  • Bee interventions: Swarming (May) and a Supercedure (July)
  • Lessons Learnt: (1) I’m not sure of accuracy of the varroa estimates; (2) be proactive and drone culling seems to be especially effective; (3) don’t worry too much if you have high varroa, because you can do something about it

The Timeline, Varroa Counts & Interventions

I use an open mesh floor and count the varroa on the board I place below.  I then use the varroa calculator provided by the National Bee Unit to estimate numbers of mites in the colony.

  • 24th August 2013 – Estimated number of varroa: 290
  • 24th August 2013 – Added first dose of Apiguard
  • 7th September 2013 – Added second dose of Apiguard
  • 18th September 2013 – Discovered that Hive One had died of starvation, so removed Apiguard and fed this hive (Hive Two). Hence, colony had 25 days of Apiguard treatment – 3 days short of the ideal
  • 8th December 2013: Estimated number of varroa: 2,000
  • 21st December 2013: Estimated number of varroa: 1,700 (I did this as I could not believe the first count)
  • 21st December 2013: Trickled oxalic acid
  • 19th January 2014: Estimated number of varroa: 980 (i.e. 40% reduction; it was a mild winter so there would have been a fair amount of capped brood containing varroa)
  • 15th March 2014: Estimated number of varroa: 17-140 (strange result as I had not applied any further treatment)
  • 3rd May 2014: Culled drone comb (I believe this was a key intervention)
  • 18th May 2014: Hive swarmed
  • 24th May 2014: Estimated number of varroa: 1
  • 14th June 2014: First time I saw eggs after the swarm (hence mated Queen again)
  • 6th July 2014: Witnessed a Queen hatching out – confident it was supercedure
  • 20th July 2014: Saw eggs – so laying Queen again
  • 26th July:  2014: Estimated number of varroa: 0
  • August 2014: Decided not to use Apiguard due to zero varroa

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Apiguard Varroa Treatment

Apiguard Varroa Treatment

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about my probable intention to use MAQs strips whilst still considering Apiguard. Based on comments, emails and conversations with 3 beekeepers (who had 25-300 hives and all used different treatments), I have concluded that Apiguard best meets my needs for August treatment.

Why Apiguard?

  1. I have already taken off the honey and hence have time to use Apiguard and without tainting the honey
  2. MAQs strips may affect the queen and brood
  3. I have low Varroa counts (0 in one of my hives) and I don’t need to take any risks with the colony

I would use MAQs strips in May/June if I had high Varroa.

Apiguard Application

  • Current status: 14 x 12 hives with one super on each, containing some stores (not for extraction)
  • Plan: Remove Queen Excluders, place supers below the brood box, place the Apiguard on top of the brood box
  • Rationale: Apiguard on brood box means it is closer to the bees and super below brood box provides more space for food for the bees

I won’t be using Apiguard in the hive with no Varroa.

Estimated Number Of Varroa In Hives

A couple of years ago I had colonies with 1,000 varroa.  Now, the estimated number of varroa in the hives is low and as follows.

  • Hive 1 – 75 Varroa  (August count)
  • Hive 2 – No Varroa (July count)
  • Hive 3 – 130 Varroa (June count)
  • Hive 5 – 130 Varroa (June count)

More details about the counts in the Hive Record Cards.

Read More

MAQs Strips Or Apiguard?

MAQs Strips Or Apiguard?

This is the kind of question I ponder in my search to create the Ultimate Beekeeping Calendar. But it’s also a question I can’t find an answer to on the Internet, so I thought I would ask you guys.

If I don’t get swayed by any comments to this post I’m going for the MAQs strips.


There are a number of interventions I am using to reduce varroa.  In summary these are:

  • April – Drone culling
  • August – Either MAQs strips or Apiguard
  • December (if it has been a cold winter, <5C for 3 weeks) – Oxalic Acid

I have written more about Varroa Management on pages highlighted at the bottom of this post. There are also links to the products I am discussing.

MAQs Strips & Apiguard – Pros & Cons

MAQs Strips

  • Active ingredient: Formic acid.  Formic acid is a natural component of honey and is found in the venom of ants
  • How it works: Kills varroa where they breed, i.e. in the hive and in the capped brood
  • Effectiveness: Reduces varroa population by 90% and also kills tracheal mites
  • Application: Temperature needs to be above 10C but less than 29C, treatment takes 1 week
  • When: Typically used from April – August, when have honey supers on
  • Other benefits: It evaporates completely, leaves no residue in the comb
  • Side effects: Randy at Scientific Beekeeping (link below) reported few side effects as compared with previous formic acid treatments. The MAQs website says “background colony health issues, such as queen frailty, may be exposed”
  • Advantages: can be used with open mesh floors and without closing hive up (as required with Apiguard)
  • Disadvantages: one year shelf life; don’t use if above 29C
  • Cost: £6/hive


  • Active ingredient: Thymol. Thymol is a naturally occurring substance derived from the plant thyme
  • How it works: Kills varroa in the hive (but not in the capped brood)
  • Effectiveness: Reduces varroa population by 93% and also kills tracheal mites
  • Application: Temperature needs to be above 15C, treatment takes 4 week, requires 2 treatments. Cannot be used with honey supers you want to extract
  • Timing: Typically applied from mid-August (in UK), can also be applied in spring
  • Side effects: can sometimes make the queen stop egg laying for a short period; brood may be removed by the workers.
  • Disadvantages: Because you need to remove any honey supers you want to extract and you cannot feed at the same time, I struggled to feed and use Apiguard at the same time (a colony starved last year). Hence, why I am considering MAQs strips
  • Cost: £5/hive


  • Both treatments are similarly effective, priced and side-effects
  • Apiguard has the advantage of being applied a month later, hence, could result in a lower mite count over the winter and spring but it’s used at the same time as when I feed the bees
  • I currently favour MAQs strips for the following reasons:
    • No complications with feeding (as described in paragraph above)
    • More efficient – it is one visit rather than the two visits required to deliver the two Apiguard doses
    • More efficient – I don’t need to spend time sealing up the hive

Read More

Acid-Resistant Bugs

Bugs In Numbers …

On my last Varroa count on 21 December 2013, there was an estimated 1,700 Varroa in Hive Two.  I was hoping that the Oxalic Acid treatment that I applied on the same day was going to reduce the varroa to about 340 (i.e. a 90% reduction).

On Sunday I did a Varroa count. Over 11 days, 27 mite had dropped onto the Varroa board. This means there has been an Average Daily Mite Fall of 2.5 Varroa mites and an estimated number of adult Varroa mites in the colony of 980.

This means I only reduced the count by about 40% … which, in turn means … I have failed!

Bugs On The Brain …

Perhaps it’s because of the warm winter we are having leading to more capped brood and the oxalic acid being less effective?  Perhaps I could have used more acid? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps …

I may have lost my battle with Varroa but the good news is, I have not yet lost my sanity. In fact, I’m proud to tell you that despite the bad news, I am surprisingly quite calm about it. Two years ago I would have been pulling my grey hair out but I think experience has chilled me out.

A former boss once said to me “just do what you can”. This is based on the premise that we have busy lives and not to worry about all the things we just don’t have time to do. So I’m going to add Apiguard in April and cull the drone brood. Until then, I’ll just sit back and count my Varroa.

Disclaimer: “just doing what you can” is often not enough … it just might make you feel better on the journey.

Further Reading

2,000 Varroa In Hive Two


I have just undertaken a varroa count on Hive Two.  40 mites dropped over 8 days.  The Varroa Mite calculator, calculates the following:

  • Average Daily Mite Fall = 5.0 varroa mites
  • Estimated number of adult varroa mites in the colony = 2,000
  • Treatment is recommended as soon as practically possible

What makes this unbelievable is that the varroa count on 24th August 2013 came out as a low 290 mites in the colony and even after that I applied Apiguard for two weeks.

It looks like I will have to apply Oxalic Acid next weekend – let’s hope it’s mild.

Photo of the varroa board in August 2013:

Hive Two Varroa Board 24 August 2013
Hive Two Varroa Board 24 August 2013

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