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How to recognize varroa mites?

 
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luk_lak
Guard Bee


Joined: 06 Dec 2013
Posts: 85
Location: Isle of Dogs, London, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 11:09 am    Post subject: How to recognize varroa mites? Reply with quote

I'm looking at my bees at the entrance and occasionally on a dead bee in front of the hive. The flying ones are to quick for me to spot anything. But never seen a mite on a flying or dead bee yet.

The different matter is with the bottom board underneath mesh floor. I do check it regularly to see what my hive is doing. And amongst regular debris I've found few tiny creatures: brownish in colour, size like 0.5 mm and less. Could not see the details with naked eye but most likely more than 4 legs. I have no camera capable of making a macro photo.

Is that varroa? If so is it better for me to remove board from underneath the mesh so they fall on the ground? Are they likely to climb back to the hive and my bees?

How can I help my bees to fight them without commercial treatments?

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Lukasz - Friendliest gardener in E14
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Smorning
Foraging Bee


Joined: 20 Aug 2013
Posts: 150
Location: Faversham Kent UK

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like varroa mites they are red-brownish and quite small but once you know what you are looking for you will see them, you don't need to be concerned if you see a modest number on the bottom board. The level of infestation is the issue as all hives have mites. You can do a powdered sugar treatment but if the mite level gets high they can decimate a hive. Treatment free beekeepers have been relatively successful with breeding from survivor stock to hope genetic resistance is passed down but with one hive that's not possible.
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Google Images is your friend! You'll see loads of pictures of Varroa close-up and on bees to give you a sense of scale.

I keep bottom boards closed all of the time (I live in a windy location), but clean them regularly and make them sticky with vegetable oil (cooking oil) so the mites cannot climb back to the hive so easily.

A Varroa Calculator is available at http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/public/BeeDiseases/varroaCalculator.cfm.

I only treat when essential with powdered sugar. To decide when to treat I count the natural drop over 7 days and divide by 7 to get the average daily drop. If the average daily drop exceeds (the number of the month +3) i.e. for July 7+3, I dust the bees with powdered sugar once a week for three weeks. The repetition for three weeks will knock down the Varroa that emerge with new bees.

Having said all that I've only had to treat one colony in the last three years and that was this year.

EDIT: Google images (search "Varroa mite") also shows pictures of deformed wing virus, the most common problem spread by the mite.
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ingo50
Scout Bee


Joined: 30 May 2014
Posts: 311
Location: Newport, Gwent, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Once your eye is in they are very easy to spot. Borrow or buy a cheap hand lens and you will quickly identify them. A live one will be seen crawling on the debris on the bottom board.
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luk_lak
Guard Bee


Joined: 06 Dec 2013
Posts: 85
Location: Isle of Dogs, London, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2015 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trekmate wrote:
Google Images is your friend! You'll see loads of pictures of Varroa close-up and on bees to give you a sense of scale


Thanks. But 99% of that photos is something I'm not capable to see with naked eye. But brilliant photos in their own right.

I've noticed few photos on the bottom board in 'normal' scale. And I think my creatures were much smaller than that. I'll look closer next time.
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bobster
Guard Bee


Joined: 19 Jan 2011
Posts: 71
Location: UK, England, Surrey

PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2015 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find Varroa mites reasonably easy to spot. But it does depend on how good your eyesight is. Spotting them on bees is harder.

If you place a piece of white (preferably sticky) paper in the bottom of your hive and leave it for a couple of days you will see the mites on the paper. There will be other debris but the dark brown mites should be visible. As suggested Google is your friend for doing a proper count to guage the scale of the problem.

Spotting them on bees is harder as you have the dark mite on the dark bee.

If you have a heavy infestation you will notice bees on the comb with DWV (deformed wing virus). As the name suggests, badly formed or no wings.

Also if you watch outside the hive with a heavy infestation you will find many dead bees with DWV being ejected from the hive or on the ground.

If you are really worried I'd get someone with more experience to take a look.

I only ever used caster sugar on mine. But of late I've not had a bad problem and have a number of strong colonies that have overwintered well.

Bobster
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luk_lak
Guard Bee


Joined: 06 Dec 2013
Posts: 85
Location: Isle of Dogs, London, UK

PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2015 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just got from another hive observation.

Now definitely saw varroa mites. Brown, round shapes size 1-2mm. Saw few of those none of them were moving.

What I saw previously was much smaller, < 05-1mm. Maybe baby mites? Maybe other creature.

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Lukasz - Friendliest gardener in E14
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2015 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find varroa mites are very easy to recognise because they look like little red/brown crabs without pincers. I don't think there is anything else that looks similar in the hive. It's a while since I did, but if you have a bad infestation, you can see them quite easily on bees backs (thorax area generally where the bees can't reach to groom them off) during an inspection but I would never even try to spot one on a flying bee returning to the hive. You need to get your eye focussed on an even plane in my experience, so seeing them on bees on the surface of the comb is the best chance of seeing them on bees... not that you would want to see them on bees at all if you can help it of course.
If you find them on the drop board and squash them with your finger nail they will leave a smear of blood.

Another option is to get an uncapping fork and uncap some drone brood (which is where many of the varroa breed). They can then be seen very easily on the white pupae, but that will of course kill those drones so it depends on how precious you want to be.
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David43
House Bee


Joined: 01 Nov 2015
Posts: 14
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2015 12:53 am    Post subject: Re: How to recognize varroa mites? Reply with quote

You can see mites on bees.
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Tavascarow
Silver Bee


Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Posts: 962
Location: UK Cornwall Snozzle

PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2015 8:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My eyesite isn't as good as it was twenty years ago.
I struggle to see eggs in cells now without reading glasses on, which is a pain under a veil. Get yourself a jewellers loupe & keep it with your bee kit.
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Balamut
House Bee


Joined: 04 Nov 2015
Posts: 14
Location: usa

PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 6:40 pm    Post subject: Re: How to recognize varroa mites? Reply with quote

You can see little holes on brood capping and also you can bees with undeveloped wings.
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newbeekeeper1
House Bee


Joined: 15 Nov 2015
Posts: 13
Location: usa

PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 7:44 pm    Post subject: Re: How to recognize varroa mites? Reply with quote

You will see varroa on bees. They are small and brown.
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