Varroa mites are honeybee parasites. Female mites lay their eggs in brood cells, the brood being the food source for the hatched mites. The mites don't kill the larvae directly, but can cause deformities and disease. Small numbers of these mites in a colony are considered "normal", but too many can devastate a colony. Some beekeepers keep track of varroa numbers and treat accordingly, some treat annually as a matter of routine, and some do nothing at all because they consider the treatment worse than the mites.
My hive has a screened bottom so the procedure was very easy, especially with a homemade sticky board. A sticky board is a thin piece of cardboard marked off in one inch squares and coated with a sticky substance such as petroleum jelly.
|Homemade sticky board for a Varroa mite count|
I simply marked off a piece of scrap paper into one inch squares and coated it with petroleum jelly. The petroleum jelly makes it "sticky" so that the mites cannot walk away.
The base of my hive kit has a slot in back for sliding in a sticky board. Once in place, I left it there for 24 hours.
My count was one mite. That may or may not be meaningful because much depends on the time of year and the number of bees in the hive. An autumn count would be more important because it would indicate the mite load my hive was carrying into winter. For the time being, no action is required on my part. For a novice beekeeper with her first hive, that's a comfort because it means all is well.
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