OAHN Bee Network Project: Tracking natural varroa mite population growth in honey bee colonies (in progress)

Project Lead: Dr. Colette Mesher

Collaborators:  Paul Kozak

Project Proposal:

The goal of this project is to collect data on natural Varroa mite population growth in honey bee colonies. Frequent sampling of honey bee colonies in the field will be conducted to map out the trajectory of the population growth throughout the entire season, along with colony parameters such as brood production, strength and overwintering survival. The data will aid in the development of visual materials such as average, minimum and maximum growth rates of Varroa over the season.

Two monitoring methods will be used to sample bees and Varroa mites twice monthly during the season to ensure an extensive data set required to accurately represent varroa growth in sufficient detail. The peak of the Varroa mite season is usually  in the late summer, but the exact timing of this varies between colonies and years, so determining the precise build up of these peaks can aid in improving best management practices for predicting the timing of treatments as well as better advisory on when beekeepers may focus their efforts on sampling for varroa mites leading to improved colony health and overwintering survival.