Mapping Varroa in Scotland


Varroa places a terrible burden on bee colonies, bringing down the vigour of colonies and spreading virus diseases. In Scotland some areas are fortunate to be free of this pest and we would like, as far as possible, to keep things that way. However, incursions are still being made into the Varroa-free area often by well-meaning beekeepers who simply do not know the Varroa status of the area.

The purpose of this initiative is to clarify where Varroa occurs and where bees are free of it, and to let people know. To achieve this we need the help of as many beekeepers as possible in the at-risk areas. Could you please help by sending us records especially if you keep bees in an area in the west or north where Varroa has not yet spread fully?

Here we offer i) forms to send data to Kate, ii) resources to help identify the pest, iii) places to go for good advice to control the pest, iv) our best estimate of the current distribution.

Joining in Resources on Varroa Maps
So, how can you tell if you have Varroa? If you'd like to help us map Varroa, there are three ways of monitoring that we think are good enough. Read about them in Kate's article in the May 2011 Scottish Beekeeper. New to the horrors of the mite? Don't despair, others have been there before you. BeeBase has an excellent and up-to-date guide written from a UK perspective. Our provisional map shows our best guess of the current distribution of the mite. Bear in mind that there are places where the mite has been taken but subsequently died out with the bees.
This is the powdered sugar method (keep your powder dry!) from Marla Spivak's group. Powdered sugar is good for knocking mites off bees for sampling but is not an effective treatment in colonies with sealed brood. This NZ Guide is still one of the best around A description of the map and its background were in Gavin's article in the May 2011 Scottish Beekeeper.
Would you like to tell us about the status of your colonies? A form to record your data is available in Word or in PDF formats. Please send the completed forms to Kate at the address below. There is a lot of experience of Varroa in Scotland. Why not search the archives or ask your own questions at the forum? The records of the Scottish Government showing the official records of the occurrence of Varroa in Scotland will be published later this year on BeeBase.
Forking out drone brood to monitor Varroa Braula on the left, Varroa on the right Our provisional map

Contact Kate:

Gavin and Kate
3 May 2011