How To Tell If My Hive Has Varroa Mites
By: Blake Shook
While testing is the ideal method for determining your Varroa mite levels, there are some visual clues of a Varroa infestation. Keep in mind, if you are seeing visual clues, it often means your hive has an extensive Varroa mite infestation.
- Varroa mites on adult bees
- Varroa mites on drone brood – When you break two boxes apart, you will often see drone larvae in the burr comb between boxes. The reddish Varroa mites stand out easily on the white larva and if you look quickly, can be seen easily.
- Bees with deformed wings – Varroa mites frequently transmit a virus called the Deformed Wing Virus. The adult bees will have deformed wings which look shriveled. You may also see these bees crawling on the ground in front of the hive since they cannot fly.
- Bees uncapping and removing pupa – Hygienic bees can sense Varroa mites under capped cells and will pull Varroa infested pupa out of the hive and discard them
Although these visual signs are indicative of Varroa mites, don’t rely on them...test! You should be testing long before visual signs arise. Often, by the time you can visually diagnose a Varroa infestation, it is too late for your hive.