- Capital Region Beekeepers Association - https://capitalregionbeekeepers.ca -

Guaranteed mite trapping

It’s hard (impossible?) to escape having mites where we live. Hence the saying, “Once you’re a beekeeper, you’re a mite-keeper.” There are a number of ways to handle these arachnids, yet it remains an active pursuit year in and year out.

The following technique might be useful to the hobbyist beekeeper and is a guaranteed way to put the damper on mite reproduction. “Hobbyist” here represents individuals with only a couple of hives. For these beekeepers, losing one hive to varroa could mean losing half of your beekeeping investment, if not more. So, keeping them in check is of great importance. It was originally tested and showcased by Heinz Kaemmerer during the January 2020 club meeting [1].

The process revolves around the brood cycle of the worker honeybee which spans 21 days (3 weeks) from egg to adult. Additionally, you’ll need to make a pair of these contraptions for each colony you want to manage in this way:

What is this exactly? This modified frame consists of two major parts:

Here are the sequence of steps you need to follow for a given hive:

Below is a schematic demonstrating the process, downloadable as a PDF [2]:

A method to guarantee mite-free hives [2]

When should you do mite trapping?

The best time to start trapping mites is around 2-3 weeks before blackberries – a major food source within the CRD – are blooming. Why?

  1. The original colony doesn’t need the young bees from the trapped frames for nectar harvesting. They stay inside for the first 3 weeks before starting to forage outside.
  2. When we build a new colony from the trapped/mite combs (B1-B3), the hatching bees need liquid food. Normally the old bees that would have been transferred to the mite hive after the three weeks process would fly home to their original hive. This could entice robbing. However, with blackberry in bloom, a new exterior, abundant food source is available making robbing unnecessary, even when you feed the mite hive with syrup (in the inner cover) since most bees forage outside for nectar.