What is the Varroa Mite (Varroa Destructor)?
Simply put, it is an external parasitic mite that attacks and feeds on our Western honey bees, Apis Malifera.
The Varroa mite is considered the # 1 cause of death in honey bees world-wide. That’s a pretty strong statement isn’t it? Ongoing tracking reports over the past decade show colony losses averaging 44% each year. That’s nearly half of all honey bee colonies!
Between the colony loss and the cost to try to prevent colony loss, Varroa mites cost beekeepers millions of dollars year after year across the globe. That’s enough to get ALL of our attention isn’t it?
When Varroa mites were discovered in the United States in 1987, beekeepers didn’t have the treatment arsenal we have now, much less the science to back it up.
Fast forward 34 years; Now we have good tools to help us manage these beasts the size of small ticks. Tools that include treatment methods accommodating most any preference a beekeeper may have – mechanical, organic or chemical. All of these methods come with good solid research and data to back them up, along with educational resources to help an entire beekeeping community win the battle against the Varroa mite.
Killing a bug on a bug ~
In this author's opinion, no other organization does a better job at presenting the facts and solutions for combating Varroa mites than the Honey Bee Health Coalition.
Found on their website is this statement:
COLLABORATION IN ACTION
We’ve formed the Honey Bee Health Coalition to bring together beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservation groups, manufacturers, and consumer brands to improve the health of honey bees in general and specifically around production agriculture.
We’re taking collaborative action to improve honey bee health by addressing multiple factors influencing bee health, including hive pests and disease, forage and nutrition, and exposure to crop pesticides.
Regardless of where you fall in your views of how to treat an infestation of Varroa mites, the HBHC has an honest answer for you. Everything from passive approaches to full on chemical warfare. The bottom line; as beekeepers, we have a responsibility to learn about them, learn how to test, and treat accordingly.