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Varroa trap and Flow Hive 2?

My daughter and I are first year beekeepers, with a Flow Hive 2 that we started from a package in May. The bees seem to be doing well, but we understand that we should be testing for Varroa mites as we enter the Fall season (in the New England area of the US).

I know that the most accurate way to test for mites is to do an alcohol test. But before we go that route (which causes me stress worrying that we’ll accidentally kill our queen), we are thinking of doing a Varroa trap test, using sticky paper under the bottom screen to catch the mites that fall down.

My questions are:

  1. Do the mites actually fall through the metal screen at the bottom of the Flow Hive 2? The openings seem pretty small.
  2. What do people recommend for capturing the mites? I’m thinking of getting one of these Mann Lake sticky boards and putting it on top of the white plastic tray that came with Flow Hive 2, if it will still slide in with the sticky board in place.
  3. Will this be reasonably accurate to show whether or not we have a mite problem? I gather that ideally this would be done several times for 24 hours to get an accurate count, assuming the mites reach the sticky paper.

If the above is not workable / effective, I guess we’ll have to proceed to the powdered sugar or alcohol test.

Thanks!

Nick

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One way to avoid that is to find her before you start and put the frame that she is on into an empty box with an inner cover underneath it so that she won’t fall out of the box.

I don’t have a Flow hive 2, but the the screen is designed to let wax and SHB fall through, so mites certainly will - they are tiny (only around 1mm across)!

You only need a sticky board if you don’t have a hive with a slider. So you shouldn’t need one.

It depends on exactly how you do it. If you just count a clean slider every 24 hours, that is horribly inaccurate. However, if you have an oxalic acid vaporizer and you do an “accelerated mite drop count”, that is very accurate. Here is how you do it:

I photograph the slider when I pull it out, so that I can count at leisure, plus I have a record of the count. If you have a good camera, bright lighting and a steady hand, the photo is really helpful.

If you can’t do that, you really need powdered sugar or alcohol. :blush:

Hi Tartuffo,

I am also new to beekeeping, what I find very helpful aside from this forum is the Flow Hive beekeeping beginners course. You can go to their website and sign up for the course. I just finished going through the section of the course regarding detecting Varroa. The Dr. that was teaching a class used a Mason jar with flour it seemed pretty simple.

Good luck :honeybee:

Hi folks,

So I decided to do the non-invasive sticky board test for the Varroa mites, as described in places like here and here.

I left the sticky board in for 5 days, and on removing it I counted 18 mites that had fallen and gotten trapped. I took a picture of it, the full resolution image can be found here.

At about four per day, this seems below the threshold that would require treatment.

However, I am concerned that the grating of the Flow Hive 2 might be stopping more of the mites from reaching the paper than the mesh traditionally used with a sticky board test.

Do people think this count seems “safe” for a Flow Hive 2, or should I treat for mites just to be safe?

We are first time beekeepers, and don’t want to take undue risks with our first batch of bees!

Well, you have to decide for yourself. I agree with Rusty (your second link) that sticky board counts are notoriously unreliable. She is a certified master beekeeper. In the article that you linked, she says:

"So what do I do? No sticky boards. Instead, when I need to do a mite count I use one of the more reliable methods such as a powdered sugar roll or an alcohol wash."

You need to do a proper count. But I already said that, so now I will shut up. :wink: