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Varroa Control

A list of treatments

I think it fair to say that since the arrival of varroa in the U.K. in 1992 the parasite, the associated viruses and our approach has changed. At the start, many beekeepers claimed they didn't have varroa in their colonies, simply because they couldn't see mites, but that's not surprising, as many can't see queens that are many times larger! Those beekeepers soon lost their bees, decided they couldn't cope with varroa and gave up. Those who did something used hard chemicals, that although caused problems in other areas, if used regularly, controlled varroa quite well - that is until the varroa built up resistance to the chemicals. We now use much softer options, although they are not as effective as the harder chemicals were. If used on a regular basis, together with monitoring, they are quite effective.

There are a growing number of beekeepers who don't treat for varroa at all and claim to have few problems. I don't disbelieve them, but I would like to have a closer look at their bees and more importantly their records. I come across some very good and honest beekeepers who monitor their colonies closely. They are honest about any losses and try to find out why some survive well when others die. There are many beekeepers in this category, some of whom are working with scientists to try to learn as much as they can. I also see some, often quite inexperienced, who boldly say they haven't treated for varroa for "X" number of years, but don't keep records, making it difficult to take too much notice of them.

I applaud the approach of reducing treatment, rather than zapping prophylactically. I don't see how bees will build up resistance, resilience or whatever you wish to call it, if you keep treating. We may lose some colonies, but I suspect the survivors will be better bees. I do still treat, but not every year. As teaching Apiary Manager of my BKA, I'm in a rather difficult position. I should be teaching how to treat for those who wish to, but I need to support those who don't wish to treat. We have two apiaries, so I have taken the view to treat one, but not the other.

Roger Patterson.

Page created 02/01/2017

Page updated 04/11/2020