Greg Hunt on breeding hygienic mite-biting honeybees

Video of Dr. Greg Hunt of Purdue University, Dept. of Entomology speaking to the Southeastern Indiana Beekeepers Association. He talks a little about pesticides, but what really caught my interest is that he's been selectively breeding for bees that will chew the ankles of varroa mites.

His experiences seem to suggest that finding mites with chewed off legs on the bottom board may correspond to hygienic behaviour in honeybees. After selecting for this behaviour, very few of his colonies require mite treatments.


Hive Talk with David and Jon

Dave and Jon and both certified master beekeepers. They are from Illinois and Arkansas respectively, so the show offers the perspective of both southern and northern American beekeeping. This podcast is recorded live and the audience is welcome to log in online or phone in with questions.

To get a sense of the style and format have a listen to episode six where they discuss mite management:


Survival of mite infested ( Varroa destructor )honeybee ( Apis mellifera ) colonies in a Nordic climate

A study performed southern tip of Gotland,an island in the Baltic sea where 150 colonies were left unmanaged with varroa mites. After 6 years it appeared that a host-parasite co-adaptation occured with the 5 colonies, plus an addition to 8 swarm colonies that remained.

Original discovery of feral bees co-existing with varroa

A 2007 study by Seeley looking at the honeybee population of the feral bee population of the Arnot Forest showed a stable host - parasite relationship with the varroa mite.

An interesting part of this paper is that it describes how survivor bees co-existing with varroa were taken out of the Arnot forest and inoculated with mites from another apiary. As mite growth in inoculated colonies occurred at a level consistent with control colonies, we might guess less virulent mites have evolved in the unmanaged bee population of the Arnot forest.

The paper can be downloaded here:

An audio lecture covering the research in this paper can be heard here:

Research examining what advantages feral bees may have in the battle against varroa

In years following that paper, Seeley has spent time investigating some of the factors present in feral colonies that differ from what is typical of managed colonies.  Word is that experiments that involved spacing colonies out at a large distances from each other, thus reducing drift and robbing, and bees kept in smaller hives that swarm more often, thus experience a break in the brood cycle, have shown promising results in terms of reducing overall mite load.

Genetic analysis of the Arnot forest survivor bees

In 2015 Alexander S. Mikheyev, Mandy M.Y. Tin, Jatin Arora & Thomas D. Seeley published a study showing that the mite resistant bees living in the Arnot forest are genetically distinct from the bees in the nearby apiaries. They also compared genes of current bees with museum sample of Arnot forest bees from the 1970's. This comparison shows there was likely a genetic bottle neck, and Arnot forest bees have evolved distinct traits as compared to the bees living in the forest prior to varroa. It also suggests that some influx of some amount of new genetics has occurred in the population, including those associated with africanized bees.


Do small cells help bees cope with Varroa? A review

In 2011 David Heaf put together a fairly comprehensive review of different scientific studies on the usefulness of using small cell comb as a varroa control. While a few studies found positive results, particularly when africanized bees were used, the majority of the studies did not find small cell beneficial against varroa. Of course some questions still remain.

Terrible VarroaPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License


The influence of brood comb cell size on Varroa destructor in Africanized honey bee colonies

Study by Giancarlo A. Piccirillo and D. De Jong of São Paulo's entemology department which found a high correlation between cell size and mite reproduction in africanized honey bee hives.


Dennis vanEnglesdorp October 13th, 2012 - YouTube

Dennis vanEnglesdorp speaks to the New Jersey Beekeepers Association about different diseases and issues facing be health and offers some stats on treatments.

The second part is a question and answer session in which the pesticide question gets a fair bit of attention.


Opening keynote address by Phil Chandler at the 2012 Natural Beekeeping Conference

Phil does a bit of talking but it quickly changes from a speech to an interesting open discussion.

Topics touched include: comb size/space, normal colony drone levels, varroa preditors,


Beekeeping by Rotation System from Celle Germany

A little while back I put out some requests on the web for ideas on how to keep hive numbers steady for locations where there is a limited amount of space for reproduction and it was suggested to me that I look at the Dutch Aalster method, or the Rotation method from Celle, Germany.

What little english info I able to find on these approaches suggests it is really a method for disease/pest control that is designed to keep productive populations during flows while creating breaks in the brood cycle and cycling out old comb from the brood nest. Though many variations seem to exist, the most detailed information on the approach comes in the form of this IWF documentary.

I first noticed bees with deformed wings virus(DWV) crawling around in front of one of our stronger hives in the late summer of last year.

We treated in the fall, and by spring symptoms had dissapeared. It was the strongest of our twenty hives this spring and we had to split it to try and keep it from swarming. By late summer(Sept. 1st) I once again started noticing bees with deformed wings. From this point in the season on, anytime I looked, I was able to find at least one if not a handful of damaged bees crawling around in the area directly in front of this one hive.

varroa mite on bee with DWVPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Notice the mite on the bee in the above photo. Mites help transmit DWV and are the cause of more severe infections as they harbour a much higher concentration of the virus than is found in the bees themselves.

Bees with deformed wings are expelled from the hive and typically have a life span under 48 hours. Seeing large amounts of DWV is a clear indicator a hive is suffering from a serious varroa problem.

Bees with DWV may also have really stubby short abdomens. In some cases I see the short abdomens without necessarily seeing visibly deformed wings. I believe these stubby bees with healthy looking wings, are also incapable of flight.

Bees with DWV and short stubby abdomens.