VARROA MITES: A DANGER TO BEES – Untreated they can wipe out a bee colony within one to three years: Varroa mites are regarded as the greatest pest to the western honeybee. This animation explains how the tiny parasites threaten bees and explains what beekeepers can do about them.
Beekeeper Ernst Caspari has 20 colonies of bees that collect honey for him, and he needs to protect his bees against their greatest enemy, the Varroa mite. This parasite, measuring one to two millimeters in length, is a major cause of bee losses during the winter.
Varroa mites first appeared in Germany in 1978. Caspari still remembers the Varroa-free time before that: “Bee-keeping was simpler. Previously, you could expect losses of up to ten per cent during the winter. A queen might die, or a shrew might get into the beehive.” Now, however, individual beekeepers may lose 30 per cent or more of their bee populations throughout a year. “That is why beekeepers have to take action, otherwise their colonies will not survive for long,” says the 86-year-old from Leverkusen. Read the whole story HERE.
The Varroa mite is less noticeable in spring when the colony strength is increasing. “But when the number of brood cells or bees decreases in late summer and the mites are reproducing unhindered, the colony is in danger,” explains Trodtfeld. “So the Varroa population has to be reduced towards the end of the summer so that a possible infestation in autumn and winter may be kept as low as possible.”
The chemical varroacide is available that the Leverkusen resident has also used for the control of the Varroa. “These are plastic strips with the active substance flumethrin. You hang them in the beehive, the bees crawl over them and spread the active substance around, which then attacks the parasites’ nervous system,” explains Caspari. Organic acids and other synthetic varroacides are also used in the fight against the Varroa.
Another product containing the active substance flumethrin is being developed by Bayer. With this, the active substance is used in strips with holes in them. These are placed at the entrance to the beehive so that the bees come into contact with the active substance as they enter and leave the hive, where they spread it around.