There is a high chance that you WILL have mites in your hives this year, but that does not mean you will lose every colony as a result. While a colony may be able to manage, tolerate and survive in the presence of mites, it’s the association of mites with viruses that pose the highest threat to the colony. Varroa mites that transmit viruses pose a serious threat as they may be able to kill a colony at a lower threshold than in the absence of viruses. Most honey bee virus infections do not present visual symptoms, which precludes field diagnoses and allows viral infections to go unnoticed by beekeepers. It is simple for a beekeeper to measure mite loads in the field, however assessment of viral levels is not and can be very costly. Several studies have linked viral infections to reductions in colony overwinter survival and bee lifespan, but due to the diagnostics cost and the labor involved, monitoring for viral levels is not a common practice in beekeeping operations.
It is fairly quick and easy to sample a hive for mites. There are several methods you can use, but the most widely used field assessment methods for mites is the “alcohol wash” method.
Check out our Varroa Mite Sampling Guide for details on how to perform this method.
Introducing the new Varroa Mite Tracker! Beekeepers can now submit their varroa mite levels on our website and then view the averages by county on an interactive map!
1) Use the ALCOHOL WASH OR SUGAR ROLL METHOD to determine the varroa mite levels in your colony. You do not need to sample every colony in an apiary. Sample a minimum of 10% per apiary.
Check out our Varroa Mite Sampling Guide for details on how to perform the alcohol wash method.
If using sticky boards, please convert your mite counts using the rubric below:
2) If you do not know the county of your apiary:
In the top right hand corner of the Varroa Mite Tracker Map, input the coordinates or address of your apiary to locate the county.
3) Fill out the form linked below for each colony and submit your data.
4) View the map to see the mite levels across the province!
*All submissions are anonymous and only county location is collected.