Sorry for the lack of articles recently, but I have been busy raising queens.
There are several ways to reduce varroa mites in your hives:
-Drone brood removal
-Interruption of the brood cycle
-Screened bottom boards
-Bee behavior changes through genetics
So far none of these methods by itself has been the silver bullet for controlling mites.
Several groups have developed “improved” bees via genetic selection. Minnesota Hygenic, Varroa Sensitive Hybrids (VSH), Russian and now Purdue Ankle Biters. Basically all of these “improved” bees are designed to amplify natural grooming behaviors. For example the VSH bees detect and remove pupae that are infected with varroa. The Purdue Ankle Biter (AB)bee strain is a relatively new development and the bees actually bite off the varroa mite’s legs which results in the mite dying. Through years of selection the biologists at Purdue University have intensified this trait so that the hive mite levels are significantly reduced.
Don’t expect the AB bee to be the silver bullet for varroa mite control. Good mite monitoring and control are still recommended. However, due to the lower mite counts in AB hives it is reported in initial field trials the AB hives have a higher winter survival. The lower mite counts also result in a generally healthier hive and a bigger honey surplus.
So if you are contemplating re-queening your hive why not use a queen with superior genetics?
Additional information on the AB strain of bee can be found on the internet by doing a search for “Purdue Ankle Biters” or in the following publications.
Bee Culture Magazine-Page 10 of the June 2016 issue and Page 41 of the April 2016 issue
American Bee Journal-Page 376 of the April 2016 issue
Beekeeper Fred purchased a Purdue Ankle Biter breeder queen this spring with the agreement that he must raise and get into the field 50 queens. He has teamed with another queen raiser (beekeeper Jon) to ensure that this goal is met. The idea is that these genetics will be spread throughout the Midwest and hopefully improve hive survival. Open mated Ankle Biter queens should be available beginning about July 20th. Beekeeper Fred will offer mated ankle biter queens to ECWBA club members for $25 each until he has recouped his investment to purchase the breeder queen. After that the price will be $30 each. Quantities are limited. Beekeeper Fred and Jon are trying to raise about 20 queens per week. Contact beekeeper Fred at 920-229-2204 or firstname.lastname@example.org or contact beekeeper Jon at 920-229-3046 or email@example.com