Making Honey Bee Pollination More Sustainable by Reducing Miticides to Control Varroa Mites
Most people associate honey bees with honey, however their real benefit to US agriculture is through pollination. But the varoa mite, a recently introduced pest, kills bees by sucking their blood in a tick-like fashion. These mites have killed tens of thousands of bee colonies and threaten crop yields due to poor pollination.
Miticides have been used to control varoa mites but now the mites are becoming resistant to them. Miticides are also expensive and can contaminate the honey made by bees, damaging its reputation as a pure food product.
This producer will use three simultaneous integrated pest management (IPM) cultural controls: a top-bar hive design, a screen hive floor and a mite-reducing bee stock. A top-bar hive has the combs in compartments (supers) stacked side by side (like slices of bread) instead of stacked vertically (like a file cabinet). This design decreases the chances of mites falling from one super down to the next but instead fall to the floor where they fall through a screen and can’t get back to the hive. Some bee stocks reduce mite populations and together with top-bar hives and screen floors this producer is hoping to control varoa mites.