Saturday, November 12, 2016

HOMEMADE VARROA TEST KIT

We have been harping you about the need to control mite levels in your hives.  Controlling the mite levels is key to minimizing the chances of deadly bee viruses from getting out of control.  Here is a simple homemade varroa check kit.  It can be used for either powdered sugar or alcohol wash checks.  The magazines and blogs that I read indicate that both powdered sugar and alcohol wash yield similar results.  

To make this varroa checker you must be a cheesehead.  I think all members of the ECWBA qualify.  First eat the cheese out of two spreadable cheese containers.  Next cut the bottom out of the containers leaving a lip around the outside edge.  Sandwich a piece of screen between the two containers.  Join the containers using 3 or 4 screws and nuts.  WhaLa! you now have a varroa mite checker.

If you plan to use this with alcohol also place a bead of RTV rubber at the joint of the two containers. 

Most varroa checks recommend using 300 (1/2 cup) of bees.   Place a mark 1 1/4 inch from the bottom of one container which is the lvel of 1/2 cup or 300 bees. 

Place 2 teaspoons of powdered sugar in containers.  Scrape 1/2 cup of bees from a brood frame into top container.  Replace lid.  Shake vigorously for several minutes.  Towards the end of the shake allow the powdered sugar (and mites) to fall through to the lower container.  Remove lid from lower container over a white sheet of paper and count the mites.  Pour the aggravated bees back into the hive.   For 300 bees 3 mites equals 1% infestation; 6 mites equals 2%, etc.  The most commonly seen limitation is 3% or 9 mites.  If you have 9 or more mites you should treat your hive.  If you are of the "live and let die" persuasion at least you will know why your bees have died.  NOTE: Some experts are now recommending a 1% level as the treatment threshold.  

For those club members that might not have cheese containers I will be bringing to the December club meeting about 6 sets of parts to be given away on first come/first severed basis.  

                                                           Assembled varroa tet kit.
                                            Cut out bottom with Exacto knife or equivalent
                                                   Place screen between containers
                                                                  Screws and nuts
                                                                       Secure together

1 comment:

Gerard Schubert said...

I like it. I'll be there early!