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Knocking off Varroa Mites with Powdered Sugar


I hate Varroa mites. I really do.

@cowgirl - this one goes out to you!


I don’t hate Varroa or Waxmoths or small hive beetles… Quote from Kirk Webster:

“I’ve thought a lot about how in the world to describe what’s really happening in an apiary that hasn’t used treatments of any kind for more than five years; where mites are now considered to be indispensable allies and friends, and where the productivity, resilience, profitability and enjoyment of the apiary are just as good as at any time in the past. I wouldn’t dream of killing any mites now, even if I had an easy and safe way of doing so.”–Kirk Webster, A New Paradigm for American Beekeeping


Granted, “hate” is a strong word. Then again, “Extremely dislike” just doesn’t have the same punch.

Since it is not my goal to create a strain of bees that can successfully co-habitate with varroa destructor, I shall continue to hate them.

And smite them when I can :wink:


Wow so i’m guessing the idea here is that the bees brush off the sugar and the mites go with it? I have found a few mites, not many, but the advice has been to treat (i haven’t yet). if there’s only a few, would this be worth trying first?


Suck it and see. I wouldn’t. Most traditional beekeepers say it is a waste of time. Michael doesn’t treat his bees but he has spent a long time and some losses to get there. You have only one hive. Sugar roll to measure what the mite load is then decide. Don’t not treat because you haven’t seen mites on the bees. By the time you see them on the bees your colony is collapsing


I haven’t spent enough time to see if there are any on the bees - but will keep my eye on it. thanks Dee xx


I can’t say using powdered sugar is a “treatment” per se but using this method to knock a bunch off is worth doing if you’re interested in trying.


Michael. I went ad read Kirk Websters website after seeing your post, very interesting read thanks for the reference.

I’d love to be able to be treatment free, but from reading how Kirk got there it seems like you need to have quite a lot of hives to be able to sustain the high initial yearly winter losses and be able to make the splits to rebuild numbers the following season, and it takes ~5 years of sustaining the losses and rebuilding with splits from those survivors to get to a point where you have bees hardy enough to survive treatment free.

How would a hobbyist bee keeper with 1-3 hives be able to get this treatment free point? Obviously with so few hives no treatment at all would likely leave them with nothing to rebuild their populations with next season, requiring them to buy new bees and returning them to square one. Seems like it would impossible to be able to do the selective breeding with so few hives unfortunately, unless I’m missing something?


If you look at the surveys over the years, people who treat have about the same losses as people who don’t. Yes, you’re missing something. You’re assuming that treating actually makes a big difference in a positive direction. The facts will not support that.



Well I can say from personal experience that the first year I didn’t treat all the hives pulled through. The second I lost one and on the third year I lost all five. I’m not saying that would happen to you but it’s why I vape.

There are documented bees in the uk and in the States that live with varroa because the virus the mites pass on is a DWV variant that is not pathogenic. Something else to throw into the mix of bee survival


The guest speak at our monthly bee club meeting was from the USDA Bee Lab in Baton Rouge. His presentation was about Varroa Mite Control. One of the methods that he talked about was the powder sugar shake as a control measure. He stated that the only way this has shown to be effective is if it was conducted every week and only when there is no brood present.


Your speaker is correct. Powdered sugar, like vaping, only knocks off phoretic mites. Probably at a lower percentage too.


Its Autumn here and I have treated with a MAQS strip. After it has run its 7 day course. I think I will give the Bees a Powdered Sugar Dust to see if we can knock a few of the Phoretic Mites off.
If the dust is harmless it wont hurt to give some of my Bees a break from having a Varroa leeching off them.
When you think that relative to Humans they are the size of a large Crab I would hate to have one of those biting and sucking out the back of my neck. I would be very pleased if someone could dust it off I am sure.


The MAQS will knock the phoretic mites off. Leave the bees to winter prep. Just check you still have a laying queen quickly and feed if needed. Then throw a log on the fire and enjoy your autumn and winter


I was nervous about using 2 MAQS strips as prescribed so went with one. Hopefully not lose my queen as she has been exceptional. So far I am 3 days in and everything looks in order. No massive drop on the board. But then my Cornish Black Bees are quite hygienic on their own.

With regards to a log on the fire I am going to insulate my hive for winter and I hope to move to a warmer climate for part of winter and maybe even visit the Flow Team in Oz. Don’t know if they take visitors yet.


They are a friendly sort-of-hippie bunch. I am sure that they would love a visit! :smile: @Faroe


Well its been well over 7 days with my single MAQS strip on. Everything seems fine they have almost filled a shallow with capped honey they have put some stores in and around the Brood along with some pollen. There are still plenty of eggs, larvae and brood. They all look happy healthy and very active. The Flow Frames are about 60% full but there could now be some Ivy coming in as they seem to be on a bit of a flow. Although I have moved the QX up Her Majesty has not laid up there.
I will give them a break now and perhaps on the next peek I will give them a bit of a dusting just to annoy those pesky Varroa Mites.


A my previous reply
MAQS will do the job so you don’t have to disturb the nest to dust the bees with sugar.
The bees will be sealing up all the joints and glueing the frames ready for winter and all you will do is disturb them.
The other reason for not throwing sugar about is that a lot will fall through the mesh floor and will attract wasps.
Apart from that It doesn’t remove more than the odd mite.

PS…do I understand that you are leaving the Flow frames on while there is Ivy coming in?
You can tell they are storing Ivy nectar by the smell of the hive and the colour of the pollen (a nice vibrant yellow) being brought in.
Ivy sets pretty hard in the frames.


Hi @Dee I will remove the Flow Frames soon. I will not leave them on for winter as there may be a condensation problem. Will probably give the sugar dusting a miss now as its extremely windy and much cooler now and I don’t want to be messing about in the brood box. They have drawn out a full shallow so that should be enough for them to get through till I feed in spring. Yes there is definitely a strong scent around the hive and lots of pollen going in although it looks a bit more orange than yellow. I have been reluctant to take off the Flow Super for the moment as there are so many bees and I don.t want to cramp them until there numbers reduce a bit. If some of the Flow Frames get some set honey I will let the bees clean it out next season. However I will try and extract as much as I can soon and keep the produce for feeding back to them.


After my MAQS treatment and with the board left in for 2 days I have had 7 dead mites and one alive.