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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Clinton, Illinois
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    Default Varroa questions

    Theoretically, IF you could buy a package of varroa-free bees, how would varroa enter the hive? Returning field bees? Returning drones? Robbers/robbing (both sides)? Other?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Varroa questions

    This is a mystery to me too. But, logic seems to say that, since unlike SHB, varroa can't fly and can't live off of a bee for very long, the bees must be carrying them from a source back home w/ them. So, maybe it is from robbing bees. But how would a varroa "know" to get onto a robbing bee? Just by chance?

    I worked as an Apiary Inspector starting in 1986 when there weren't any known cases of Varroa jacobsonii in NY. Then, over the next 4 or 5 years there was nowhere in NY that one could not find varroa, and no hives either.

    We, meaning NYS Apiary Inspectors, briefly considered jumpsuits that we would take off and fumigate after each Apiary Inspection to decrease the possibilirty of spreading Varroa from beekeeper to beekeeper on our clothing. I'm sure no one else remembers that conversation.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Grand Rapids MI USA
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    336

    Default Re: Varroa questions

    For some the school of thought is drones from an infected hive, as most of the time guard bees don't see them as a threat.

  4. #4
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Varroa questions

    Makes sense.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
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    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
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    Default Re: Varroa questions

    I think the answer has to be robbing and drifting, plus the odd influx of bees from a collapsing colony.
    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Varroa questions

    Yes, all these ideas are likely how varroa get transferred around. Here's a wild idea that just came to me, so don't laugh. Too bad there isn't some way the package producers could treat the bees after they are shook into the packages to kill all the mites. Then we install these packages into our hives. Now, what if we started using much smaller entrances than we have been using for the last 100 years, lets say only about 1 1/2" wide with the rest of the entrance screened up to allow for ventilation only, no bee traffic. This would allow the bees to gaurd the entrance more efficiently from robbers. Now, we also need to start painting our hives noticeably different colors and put various different designs on them, especially when the hives are in straight rows very close together, this would help bees recognize their own hive better and aid with drifting problems. If all this was possible or done, do you think it would help cut down on varroa infestations, or at least postpone it longer, or should I just wake up from my dream? John

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Varroa questions

    They get spread by robbing & drifting, but it's likely a main way is they get off on flowers & wait for the next bee.

    Varroa have been found on bumblebees, and carpet beetles, both species that varroa cannot breed on, but visit flowers. Varroa mites are often found on cotton plants during pollen season.

    It's a mystery how varroa arrived in my country. We do not allow bee imports. It's possible some were imported illegally, but the other thing we do here is import cut flowers. If you put some live varroa in a jar, they will start dieing in a day or so, but a few may live up to 4 days.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Outagamie County, Wisconsin USA
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    927

    Default Re: Varroa questions

    This year I am going to see if rigging up a brush at the entrance will help by knocking off at least some mites and having them fall thru a screened bottom board.

    I thought I read somewhere that it was possible to "heat" treat bees that are sold.

    Questions: How far can varroa travel off of a bee? If they are on a solid bottom board, can they get back up into the hive on their own? How solidly are they attached to the bee host?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Varroa questions

    The brush thing has been tried and in fact one was being sold a while back. But it was not effective.

    They can walk quite far. A smear of vaseline in the right place can stop them getting back into the hive.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    SOMERSET, ENGLAND
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    338

    Default Re: Varroa questions

    Robbing,on flowers and drifting,mainly by drones as these can cover a huge area, and are generally allowed into just about any hive,have seen drones that have been marked to use for II, turning up in hives miles away from where they originated from.

  11. #11
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Varroa questions

    A while back I ran a queen breeding course using a few hives in my garden at the house. Some people wanted to practise queen marking so we sat outside one of the hives and picked bees off the entrance board to practise marking, they got a green dot and were released. I was very surprised a week or two later when I inspected all the hives to find bees with green dots in all of them.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Brandon, MS USA
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    Re: Varroa questions

    Oldtimer is correct. Varroa have been found on blooms in cotton, peach, melons, etc... I believe that it is within reason that the natural spread (and by "natural" I mean other than via non treated package bees brood transfers, etc..) of Varroa would be more so from their ability to leave the colony on a worker that has reached foraging age, leave the worker while it is on a bloom, then attach itself to another worker as it enters the bloom, thus making its way into a different colony in order to spread its species... this could happen by the hundreds from each infested colony and infect other colonies in a very rapid spread during one season... this is why treating a colony in the early spring can rid it of mites, then the mites simply return by means of florret transfer during the flow, then by fall the brood has been completely infested again, requiring the fall treatment. Not a very encouraging post, but rather a sad truth... in stock that has developed vsh traits as a resistance to Varroa, we have noted that soon after each flow is when they seem to be uncapping the most... in spring it is very rare, as the Varroa were removed during the previous fall and early winter... thus the colony is Varroa free until the next flow where it can pick up more Varroa from other colonies that wintered with the mites.

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