Date of this Version
This NebGuide describes a rapid and efficient technique for detecting and assessing varroa mite infestations. It uses powdered sugar to dislodge mites from bees.
The varroa mite was first discovered in the United States in 1987. Globally, it is the most important pest of honey bees and it has caused extensive losses in feral and managed colonies. Once introduced, varroa mites have never been eradicated from any country or region, and beekeepers must adopt an integrated pest management strategy to protect their colonies. Early detection and assessment of infestation levels are important components of a varroa management plan. Since varroa mites feed by piercing the intersegmental membranes on the underside of the bee's abdomen, they are not easily observed on bees until colonies are severely injured. Beekeepers need to use a detection technique to check their colonies for mites. In addition to detecting mites, beekeepers need to accurately assess the infestation level to determine when control measures are warranted.