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Sugar Roll, Convince Me!


Having read many times that all hives have or will have varroa, I am having a hard time convincing myself that the Sugar Roll test is all that important. Couldn’t you just treat spring and fall and feel pretty good about the mite loads in your hives?


Yes you could. Make sure you rotate treatments so that you don’t use similar products twice running.
Or you could do as some do and miss out the spring treatment if your varroa load is low. But you would have to know what the load is.
I’m convinced of the need to treat only when needed and not prophylacticaly


You could, but the disadvantage is that mite treatments can be pretty hard on the bees. In particular, the Queen can suffer some malpighian tubule (bee kidneys) damage from oxalic acid (particularly the trickle method), especially as she lives longer than the other bees and is likely to accumulate damage from repeated treatments over time. Formic acid often kills bees too. So it is all a balance.

Besides which, once you have done it a couple of times, the sugar roll is really easy and very helpful. :blush:


Can anyone point to a really good sugar roll video out there? Can @Bobby_Thanepohn do a video perhaps with cool music and instructions??


This one is OK, but there aren’t any really good ones. I agree, Bobby needs to do one for us! :smile:


I shake moderately to coat the bees. Leave them sitting for a couple of minutes in the shade, then shake vigorously over a white bowl of water to catch the mites. You have to shake the mites off fairly vigorously, for at least 1 minute, according to UMN who invented the method.

15 per 300 bees


Our State Apiarist says that depends on the time of year. Late summer he recommends treating at 1 mite. Reason? Most of the mites are under the cell capping’s, not on the bees. Now in Spring or late Spring that would be ok because the bees are going to out-breed the mites, but not this time of year.


15 per 300 is from UMN for late August counts, but @Red_Hot_Chilipepper makes a very good point.


I gave a sugar roll demo at the bee club’s summer picnic. I didn’t film it though!


I treat at 6 at this time of year.
The one colony that had a sugar roll of 7 this August has dropped 200 mites in 10 days with Oxalic. Last vape was done a couple of days ago and you have to bear in mind that mites continue to drop for a month after treatment. I expect the load to have been maybe 350 mites. That’s in a 14x12 which is equivalent …roughly… to a 10 frame deep


I sure do appreciate this vid. The biggest problem I was having with this sugar roll thing was teaching them bees to get in that jar. :wink:


The bees that don’t want to go in are probably mostly the ones you don’t want, too. Foragers and flyers. You want young nurse bees who spend most of their time in the hive. That is why you shake bees off frames of brood. You will do fine. :wink:


No queen mind :wink:


Am very ambiguous about sugar shake. I conducted 6 shakes over the season in 2016, after watching countless videos, and reading other instructions on how to do correctly. The detection method yielded only 1 or 2 mites, thus I (smugly) did not treat. Then the provincial apiarist suggested a late October mite treatment (formic acid). Was shocked to see hundreds of mites on sticky board afterwards. How did I fail to detect? Took bees from brood area as instructed. So I am inclined to do the prophylactic treatment this year – spring and fall – since this experience.


Did you roll just before you would have treated anyway?
Mites can build up very quickly and do much more harm in the autumn when the brood nest is contracting


Hi All,
I wanted to share with you an easy idea for this roller coaster of a ride for the bees called a Sugar Roll.

I purchased a 3 3/8" diameter Danco Universal Shower Drain Strainer ($4.99 at Orchard Hardware Supplies in California) for my mason jar with the same size opening.
It’s a perfectly fitting, super clean and durable solution to substitute the mesh top that’s otherwise commonly used.


Alcohol wash is more accurate


That’s very ingenious


Sugar roll shows you there are more mites than you think in the hive.

Alcohol wash shows you how many mites.


Anytime! Contact me if you’d like.