Varroa destructor (Varroa), and the viruses it vectors is a significant driver of honey bee colony mortality. Yet, indicators suggest that many beekeepers are not monitoring honey bee colony Varroa infestations and therefore aren’t able to connect infestation to colony loss.
Varroa are ectoparasites that breed in the cells of developing honey bees, feeding on bees and transmitting several harmful viruses as they do so. Though it is encouraging to see awareness of these formidable foes growing on all sides of the beekeeping community, it is worrying that recent research results show signs of increasing acaricide resistance in Varroa, and rising virulence of Varroa-vectored viruses. Therefore, Varroa remains the biggest threat to honey bee health and the sustainability of beekeeping.
This is why the Bee Informed Partnership supports every initiative that is raising awareness against Varroa, and spreading information about good management practices – chief among them is the regular monitoring for pests by all beekeepers in their own apiaries.
The good news is that monitoring for pests and diseases can easily become second nature, and quantifying the level of mite infestations in your operation is actually easy to do!
This is the message of the 2022 North American Mite-A-Thon, an annual initiative spearheaded by the Pollinator Partnership, in proud collaboration with American Honey Producers Association, the USDA, the University of Maryland Bee Lab, the American Beekeeping Federation, Michigan State University, the Honey Bee Health Coalition, University of Minnesota Bee Lab and Bee Squad, the Canadian Honey Council, and yours truly, the Bee Informed Partnership.
What Is Mite-A-Thon?
Mite-A-Thon is a North American effort to spread awareness about Varroa, encourage beekeepers to sample their own colonies to quantify their own mite infestation levels, and promote conversation between beekeepers about the importance of Varroa monitoring and management.
Maybe your club has some new members that have never dared to take a sample on their own? Maybe you need to re-familiarize long-time members with proper Varroa monitoring techniques? Maybe you have let spring catch you by surprise and have delayed Varroa monitoring in the middle of swarm control? Then now is the perfect time to go to your colonies, perform a Varroa test (either powdered sugar roll or alcohol wash), enter your data on the platform, and see if you can get your region to be the most Varroa-aware on the map!
Mite-A-Thon is running in the Spring (April 30th – May 15th, 2022) and in late summer (August 13th – 28th, 2022). All beekeepers in North America are encouraged to participate.
How To Participate in the 2022 Mite-A-Thon
To find out more about Mite-A-Thon and how you can participate, go to their website (https://www.pollinator.org/miteathon), where you will find information about how to participate, previous years’ reports and educational resources to share with your bee club.
Once collected, you can submit your Varroa data using the online form or by using the mitecheck app (downloadable on the App Store and Google Play).