Skip to main content

Honey Bee Alcohol Mite Wash

Over the years of beekeeping varroa mites have always been a problem. The first few years I did nothing to the colony to help them with their mite population. That resulted in dead colonies over winter. I quickly learned that by treat in August my colonies would have enough time to raise healthy bees for winter. My overwintering success rate jump dramatically but still I did not know what the mite population was. Were my bees infested or did they have any varroa hygiene sensitivity of any king? This year I was convinced by a fellow beekeeper read an article by Randy Oliver of Scientific about mites counts and ways to check them. Not long after reading this article I gave it a try. It was not hard, it only took a few minutes per hive. I learned that some of my colonies manage mites very well with any assistance from me. They averaged 1.6 mites per hundred. My worst out of 20 colonies was 4 per hundred.

To do this test you will need a few items.

1. Rubbing Alcohol
2. 2 Mason Jar (lids will need modified, link here)
3. 1/2 cup measure cup
4. Large bowl or tub (white is best)
5. Water

NOTE: Rubbing alcohol is very flammable so keep it away from your smoker at all times.

Step 1

First go into your colony and find the queen, set her frame to the side for her protection. Then look for a frame of brood in mixed stages (open and close cells). After the frame is found shake it over your large bowl. Then quickly shake the bees into the corner or edge of bowl and scoop up a 1/2 cup and pour them into the mason jar. Place the lid on the jar before any escape. Dump the remaining bees in the bowl back into the hive and close it up.

Step 2
A 1/2 cup of bees is approximately 300 bees, which we now have contained in the mason jar. Now pour rubbing alcohol through the screened lid until the bees are all floating, screw on the top jar and shake, shake, shake. The shaking will dislodge the mites from the bees.

Step 3
Pour the alcohol into the bowl and watch for mites. After the jar has emptied you can better the results of the test by washing the bees a few more times but with water. The bees and mites are dead so alcohol is not needed anymore. I like to wash them 3 additional times to make sure I have all the mites for my mite count.

Step 4

After you get your mite count you need to do some math to figure the mite population. For this example lets say I found 12 mites.

12 Mites divided by 300 bees (what we had in jar)= 0.4 x 100 = 4%   or 4 mites per hundred bees

Remember before doing this test you will need to modify a mason jar lid scroll down about half way and you will find how to modify it.

Or you can purchase a jar with the modified lid

This population chart shows the growth curve of mite over bees in Aug.- Sept.. A colony with this heavy of a mite load would most likely not survive winter without some kind of a treatment.

Popular posts from this blog

Homemade Wasp Killer (Spray)

Are you tired of buying expensive Wasp and Yellow Jacket spray? I can help you save a few bucks and at the same time kill these pest. A few years back I started removing honeybees from homes and other buildings. Not long after I had a few people ask if I could take care of the bad bees (Wasp, Yellow Jackets, Hornets). I have never considered this before with the honeybees I was working to gain the colony of bees. But why not take on killing wasp? I wanted to find a simple way to do this and something that would not bother kids or pets. So believe it or not I found out that soapy water would suffocate the wasp if they were covered with it. That's right just regular dish soap and water. Wasp breath through their skin. Covering them with soapy water suffocates them.

So I went and purchased a one gallon pump up sprayer to mix the soapy water in. These sprayers can help to keep you out of harms way. When adjusted correctly they can shot a 6-10 foot stream. Wasp drop like dead flies af…