newly developed bee emerging from its larval cell

Pest Management - Mite Treatments for Bees

Beekeeping In New England

A bee colony may typically consist of tens of thousands of individuals.

Getting Started

Beekeeping has a pretty expensive entry fee.
You'll need the suit, tools, hive box stack, lots of sugar, and of course, the bees themselves.

We are using the Langstroth hive, starting out with ten frame boxes; two deeps for brood production and several mediums that work as our supers.

If you are just starting out, I would suggest the eight frame size, and stick to one deep box as the base. They do get heavy, sticky and difficult to manage in the heat of summer, surrounded by angry bees.
Another recomendation is to expect to start with two hives so that you have an opportunity to share resources throughout the season.
And, absolutely find a mentor or classes to attend; suit up completely, double gloves, no gaps, and trust that suit.

Beekeeping is involved. It will demand your time and attention.
But you should do it anyway.

Managing Mite Infestations

Mites' reproductive cycles compliment that of the bees'. At the time that the bee population begins to decline in the fall, the mite reproductive cycle is still in full swing, creating an imbalance where mites have an opportunity to overwhelm the bees.

How to count mites:

  1. Keep an eye on your bottom board for discarded mite bodies.
  2. Powdered sugar roll
    • The sampler collects about 300 bees using a 1/2-cup measuring cup and places them in a jar with a wire mesh screen lid (1/8") along with 2 Tbsp of powdered sugar. Gently swirl the bees for about a minute before turning the jar upside down and shaking for two minutes over a tray to capture the mites as they fall. Divided the mites by three to find the number of mites per 100 bees.
  3. Alcohol Wash - Most effective method
    • The sampler collects about 300 bees using a 1/2-cup measuring cup. The bees are submerged in rubbing alcohol, shake vigorously for two minutes, pour over a 1/8" wire mesh screen into a tray. The mites are then counted, and the resulting number is divided by three.

Inspection Checklist

Hive inspections should be performed every two to three weeks. The objective is to ensure the hive is healthy and productive.

These are among the items that should be on your checklist:

  • The queen is present and laying. Ie: Your hive is "Queenright."
  • If there are swarm cells or queen cells in production.
  • Are there capped cells; honey, drone, pollen, etc.
  • Does your brood pattern look healthy?
  • Is there evidence of dissease, mold or ivasive pest infestation?
  • Results of mite count.
  • Also, make note of what's in bloom, seasonal weather anomalies, mite treatment schedules, and general population density for your records.

Image of Break Brood For Mite Control
Image of Feedback Loops chart
Image of Mite Sampling Schedule

Larval Development Cycles

Honey bee life cycle (Wiki):

Three types of Honey Bees and Larval Cycles:

1.) Queens (egg-producers) emerge from their cells in 15–16 days
2.) Workers (non-reproducing females) emerge from their cells in 21 days
3.) Drones (males whose main duty is to find and mate with a queen) emerge from their cells in 24 days
Image of drawn honey comb

Bee Facts:

* Honey bee larvae hatch from eggs in three to four days, are fed by worker bees (Nurse Bees,) and develop through several stages in the cells.
* Cells are capped by worker bees when the larva pupates.
* Queens and drones are larger than workers, so require larger cells to develop.
* Drone cells are particularly attractive to mites because of the extended time drones need to mature, making drone brood removal part of mite management strategies.

Image of larval Cycles chart
Image of drawn honey comb

"New virgin queens develop in enlarged cells through differential feeding of royal jelly by workers. When the existing queen ages or dies or the colony becomes very large, a new queen is raised by the worker bees. When the hive is too large, the old queen will take half the hive and half the reserves with her in a swarm. This occurs a few days prior to the new queen hatching. If several queens emerge they will begin piping (a high buzzing noise) signaling their location for the other virgin queens to come fight. Once one has eliminated the others, she will go around the hive chewing the sides of any other queen cells and stinging and killing the pupae. The queen takes one or several nuptial flights to mate with drones from other colonies, which die after mating.
The average lifespan of a queen is three to four years; drones usually die upon mating or are expelled from the hive before the winter; and workers may live for a few weeks in the summer and several months in areas with an extended winter."

Image of drawn honey comb


Bees are adapted to seasonal exposures. They do not suffer from heat or cold. However, they will succumb to mite stress and moisture in the hive. Be sure to have a Verroa management plan in place and keep the hive well ventillated.
It's recomended that each hive should go into winter with eighteen frames of honey, and a candy board.
There is a lot of wisdom regarding feeding and insulating the hive. Find out what your local beekeepers are doing and find a technique that works for you and your bees.

Image of: Block of bees wax