How Varroacides Can Help Combat Honey Bees' Biggest Threat

One thing most honey bee experts can agree on – the Varroa mite, just 1.6 mm in length, is the biggest enemy of the honey bee worldwide. There are virtually no honey bee colonies that are not affected by Varroa.

Close Up of Honey Bee with Varroa MitesAn invasive species, the Varroa mite weakens the bee, proliferates rapidly and transmits pathogenic viruses.

“If honey bees were the size of humans, the Varroa mite, which latches to their backs and sucks their blood, would be the size of a dinner platter,” said Sarah Myers, education outreach lead and beekeeper at the Bayer Bee Care Center.

“Varroa mites are prevalent in every hive and must be managed to ensure colony health,” Myers said.

Luckily, tools exist to help beekeepers manage this devastating pest. The Bayer Bee Care Program has researched management practices and treatment methods to combat Varroa in honey bee colonies for more than 30 years. Varroacides remain one of the most effective methods of eradicating the mite from hives.

Beekeeper Checking Health of Hive“Beekeepers should monitor their hives year round, but their most important work begins in late summer to contain infestations in the hive,” said Dick Rogers, principal scientist, entomologist and manager for bee health and Integrated Apiculture Research. He recommends applying varroacides from late summer into the fall, when they are particularly effective.

“One treatment isn’t enough,” Rogers said. “Beekeepers have to be vigilant in their fight against the Varroa mite and should considering combining varroacide applications with other methods of control.”

For more information on the best methods to combat Varroa in your area, contact your local beekeeping association.