Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Sugar Dusting for Varroa Mite Control
Puget Sound Bee Honey & Pollen Resource List
Hive Management Calendar

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Prepared by Stephen Augustine and Paul Hosticka (WSBA) as a preliminary guide to get started in Western WA. May 21, 2002

The IPM Decision Making Process:

IF pest suppression treatments are needed...
WHEN are they needed?
WHERE are they needed?
WHAT mix of control tactics could be used?

Elements of IPM:

The IPM philosophy strongly emphasizes common sense
IPM in practice: IF pest suppression treatments are needed, WHEN are they needed, WHERE are they needed, WHAT mix of control tactics could be used.
Prevention is much better than attempting a cure - help the bees help themselves.
Implement regular monitoring/sampling/testing to be able to make sound decisions
Use soft treatments when appropriate
Use hard chemicals when only absolutely necessary as indicated by monitoring/sampling/testing
Practice rotational use of chemicals to avoid pests developing resistance

IPM uses a combination of strategies to manage pest populations. It is not always a biological control, although biological control is a useful tactic. IPM is not an organic program although it may integrate organic materials into the control tactic. Nor is IPM anti-pesticide but generally it attempts to reduce chemical dependency with a mix of control tactics. Control of mites in bee colonies needs to move from dependence on one or a few pesticide chemicals to a balanced IPM approach.

The success of an IPM program hinges on good monitoring. Early pest detection often allows for use of non-chemical controls. By monitoring, the exact location and size of the pest population can be determined. By analyzing data collected by monitoring, it should be possible to predict when a recurring pest might occur and then more efficiently manage that problem. Sampling/scouting is a key element in IPM. You should sample on a regular basis:

(a) to monitor pest population levels, (b) to determine when a pest is present, (c) the life stage(s) present, (d) how many are present (the population level).


Disease Prevention Monitoring Soft Treatment Last Resort

New breeding stock such as Russians, SMR bees or hygienic bees with a propensity for grooming
4.9 mm foundation as practiced by the Lusby's (opposed to 5.4 and higher)
Drone trapping and freezing
Avoid exposing your bees to other infected hives
Visual observation for deformed bees (wings)
Screened bottom board, sugar roll, ether roll, alcohol wash, drone sampling
Sticky board and 24 hour mite drop with strips. Less than 25 mites require no treatment.
Threshold levels - 5 to 10% total infestation by phoretic (freely moving) mites.
Formic acid
Food Grade Mineral Oil (FGMO)
Drone trapping
Experimental Mite Zapper?
Essential oils, thymol, Apilife-var etc.
Sugar ester spray, powdered sugar dusting

Year-round treatment with grease patties
TM resistant stock such as New World Carniolans
Visual observation for crawlers and K-Wings
Sample bees on top of frames and send to a diagnostics lab
Threshold levels - 10 to 15%
Continual grease patties
Formic Acid
Oxalic Acid?
Good ventilation year round
Good apiary location/conditions
Give the bees good quality feed
Reduce stress when possible.
Replace combs after five years of use
Look for streaking on the outside of the hive and inside the hive
Poor spring brood build-up
Sample bees and send to a diagnostics lab
Use hygienic bees such as Marla Spivak's Minnesota Hygienic Bees
Avoid using old equipment or sterilize any old equipment that you obtain
Avoid exposing your bees to infected hives
Monitor by close inspection of brood every 10 days, look for perforated or sunken cappings, scales in old comb.
Remove and destroy combs with ANY infected cells.
(Hygienic bees can cope with AFB by containing small outbreaks)
Destroy hives
Dispose of infected combs, sterilize other equipment.

Varroa Mite Thresholds

These observations are subjective to individual hives, climactic conditions, race of bees, etc. and are by no means meant to be a definitive guide to threshold levels. Notice that we give very conservative estimates for what might be reasonable threshold levels when deciding whether to treat or not.

Ether Roll or Sugar Shake
Mite Drop with Sticky Board

Paul Hosticka and Stephen Augustine

Ether roll, sugar shake, or alcohol wash of 100 bees and resulting in 5 mites or less might not require treatment.
Sticky board and 24 hour mite drop, with strips (Apistan), of less than 25 mites requires no treatment.

Dewey Carron, Univ. of Delaware

Ether roll of 100 bees and 15 mites or less requires no treatment
A natural mite fall, without strips, of under 43 - 60 mites per day, monitored for a 3-day interval using sticky boards, would not require treatment.

Keith Delaplane, Univ. of Georgia Honey Bee Program claims that colonies can tolerate up to 3200-4300 mites before suffering irreparable harm. Such a population of mites would roughly correspond to the counts given in the next two columns.

Ether roll (1 ½ inches of bees per quart jar) yields of under 15-38 mites requires no treatment.
A natural mite fall, without strips, of under 59 - 187 mites per day, monitored for a 3-day interval using sticky boards, would not require treatment.