Summertime Varroa Mite / Virus Management

The spring honeyflow in Central Texas has wrapped up for another year and our bees are headed into the dog days of summer. As the queen slows down her egg-laying rate, the brood area in the colony will begin to shrink because there is no need for additional foragers during the summer. Summer brood reduction can cause serious problems for our colonies as Varroa mite populations are still expanding exponentially and are infecting an ever greater percentage of the brood still present. Left unchecked, this can cause a storm of collapse and death for our colonies as viruses vectored by the mites reach overwhelming levels.

After the spring honey is harvested in early summer, mite control becomes a priority for our beehives. While sampling for Varroa mites in a colony would be informative this time of year, a treatment to curb the climbing mite population is essential for all our hives.

There are several miticides, both synthetic and organic, that are appropriate treatments for the summertime. At Oakley Family Apiaries, we have found Apiguard, a thymol-based organic miticide, to be an effective treatment and it has been our summer mite treatment of choice for the past fifteen years.

Whatever miticide a beekeeper uses, this summertime treatment is essential for the long-term health of our colonies. Left without summer mite treatment only a percentage of our colonies may succumb by the end of the summer, but often the remaining colonies will struggle in a state of ill health, which makes them susceptible to future stress events like winter weather.

Apiguard is a four-week treatment that aims to kill the mites as they hatch out from emerging brood. Treating these hives at one-week intervals disrupts the mite life cycle thereby diminishing its population growth. The Apiguard manufacturer reports an average efficacy rate of 93%.

Vita Bee Health, the manufacturer of Apiguard, has video instructions for the application of Apiguard.

I have produced a Youtube video that describes my summertime treatment protocol.