How To Perform A Mite Count

Have you ever conducted a mite count?

July and August typically bring scorching temperatures. The dearth period lingers until goldenrod blooms. During these hot months, bee colonies can become more defensive. The thought of rummaging through your hive to find a brood frame for a mite count may not be the most appealing task.

However, with The Keeper's Hive conducting a mite count is a breeze. Just lift the lid, remove the observation window, and extract frame #3. Ensure that the queen is not present on this frame and gently shake the bees into a plastic wash bin. Scoop up approximately 1/2 cup of bees into a mite washer and add either 90% isopropyl alcohol or a solution of Dawn dish soap. Shake this mixture for one minute, then count the reddish-brown, sesame seed-like entities settled at the bottom of the cup. If you observe fewer than six, your colony is in good shape. However, if you count six or more, it's likely time to consider a miticide treatment to help your bees combat the mite infestation.

Choosing the right miticide can make a significant difference. Keep in mind that they all work if used correctly, and they tend to be more effective in single brood chamber hives. Since most mites are either in the brood or on the nurse bees, concentrating treatment on the brood makes logical sense. Extensive online resources and package inserts can provide detailed guidance on the best usage of each miticide.

Here's my mite treatment schedule:

  1. July/August: Place 2 strips of Mite Away Quick Strips or Formic Pro in the brood chamber for 2 weeks. You should remove the observation panel and any entrance reducer you have on the bottom board for this period.
  2. September: Install 2 strips of Apivar in the brood chamber for 6 weeks. (I have also used Apiguard in September: 25-50 grams depending on the colony's population size, with 2 applications separated by 2 weeks.)
  3. December: Administer oxalic acid dribble: 5 ml per seam of bees (the space between the frames).

Over the past 2 years, I have not experienced any winter losses of colonies in the Keeper's Hives. This success can be attributed largely to the ease of accessing the brood to check mite levels monthly and, when necessary, administering treatments in a single brood chamber, which proves highly effective.


Happy beekeeping! 🐝🏡🍯