2 minute read

A varroa treatment without chemicals

A chemical-free light at the end of the tunnel

A chance meeting with a Belgian beekeeper, Ludo de Clercq and ensuing discussion brought to light the first real hope of Varroa control without chemicals. 

A German researcher has been looking very closely at Varroa mite behaviour using perspex-backed comb cells. He has discovered that every time nurse bee visits cell to feed young larvae, the mite runs off the bee into the cell and ‘checks’ the space between larvae body and the cell wall. When the larvae is fully grown and only 24 hours away from a cell sealing, its body touches both sides of the cell wall. At this point any mite doing its check will remain in the cell and be sealed in with the larvae. 24 hours contact with the brood food in the cell is needed for it to become sexually mature. It can then multiply its numbers and more adult mite will emerge with the young bee.

Applying some clever thinking to this situation has resulted in the design and production of full plastic comb with cells having tapered sides.

As the cell walls are further apart at the bottom, where the larvae is coiled, its body does not expand to touch the sides until some two hours before sealing. Thus the Varroa mite has insufficient time to mature before being sealed in, and therefore will not multiply. 

Although the combs are not cheap, at present £5 each, they would ensure pure honey for the public and ourselves.

Source: Lol Oakes, An Hes (Newsletter of the West Cornwall Beekeepers’ Association).