Enhancing hive health through good apiary practices includes taking hygienic measures and having a sound knowledge of pathogen and bee life cycles, as well as making the best use of currently available mite management solutions.
There are many ways to monitor for hive health – a casual walk-by and entrance examination, popping the hive lid, examining frames, and inspecting dead bee traps.
To avoid surprises or unexpected bee disappearances, beekeepers must vigilantly monitor their hives for the most devastating factor affect bee health – the Varroa mite. To avoid overestimating the health of a hive or overtreating hives, beekeepers should conduct a mite monitoring check three times a year (spring, mid-summer and late summer). The most critical time to check is when bees start to prepare for winter. An unaddressed mite infestation during this time can result in colony losses throughout fall and winter. An accurate method for monitoring is to conduct a mite alcohol wash.
Dick Rogers, entomologist and research manager for Bayer Bee Care, suggests using the alcohol wash method of determining a hive's mite level. Here is a video illustrating step-by-step instructions
on how beekeepers can conduct an alcohol wash to monitor honey bee hives for mites.