When Should I Perform the First Mite Check and Treatment?

Ask the Expert!

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Dave D asks: With installed packages, when would the first mite check and treatment be appropriate?

Kristi Cook replies:

A key time for getting a jump on varroa is when the colony is broodless, since any mites present will be in a phoretic state rather than hiding inside capped brood. This makes freshly installed packages the perfect opportunity to take mite counts and to conduct treatments, as it will take anywhere from a few days to a week or more before the new queen lays her first eggs.

However, a bit of care should be taken to minimize stress to the package when it first arrives in the bee yard. Allow the freshly installed colony time to accept both the new queen and its new home. Typically, queen acceptance takes two-three days before it’s safe to release the queen into the hive, and you’ll know the colony has accepted its new home once worker bees begin building new comb or the queen lays her first eggs.

As soon as the bees show queen acceptance and have settled into their new home—usually within five days or so—conduct that first mite test using the method of your choice. If mite counts suggest the need for treatment, apply at this time before any brood is capped to ensure only phoretic mites are present. Keep in mind you only have a maximum of eight days once that first egg is laid to the time it is capped, so don’t miss this very short window of time.

Taking mite counts and treating accordingly before packages begin capping brood is a prime example of good timing when it comes to varroa control. This gives the colony a fighting chance against varroa provided you continue to monitor and treat accordingly throughout the rest of the season.

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