Varroa Management, a practical guide on how to manage varroa mites in honey bee colonies, 

by Kirsty Stainton

137 pages £16.  Published by Northern bee Books

I can hear you saying, “Not yet another book on this topic”, but in my opinion this one is rather special. It is beautifully written in simple but comprehensive terms. It begins with a summary of what we all need to know about varroa and its effects on bee colonies. Then it goes on to stress the damage caused by viruses, for which varroa is a vector, for example Deformed Wing Virus, and how varroa spreads viruses through colonies. The book then describes how the number of mites in a colony can be estimated, and what levels should be considered serious enough for action to be taken to reduce the numbers to acceptable levels. In this respect it is interesting that Kirsty’s recent research indicates that a natural mite drop of less than 10 mites a day does not require treatment, a much higher figure than the 2 per day originally recommended by the NBU at least 30 years ago.  The miticides familiar to us are described in some detail, and their effectiveness is given in terms of the percentage kill of the mites.

So what is so special about this book? It brings together in simple language all of the essential knowledge regarding varroa that we have ‘picked-up’ over the last 30 or so years, together with most of the commercial miticide products which are available, with very helpful comments on which to use and when to use them.  It covers both currently approved insecticides, organic acids and some so-called essential oils.

How many times have we been asked to advise a new beekeeper what to use when treating for varroa? This is not a question for which it is very easy to give a short, swift, accurate, and appropriate answer. I think that this fine book is an ideal answer to questions of this sort. I would describe it as a ‘must buy’ for all new beekeepers, and it would not be out of place on the bookshelf of any experienced beekeeper as a very useful reference book on the topic.

So, at least, have a look in it!

With all the current emphasis on the Asian hornet, we mustn’t forget Varroa!

Dr Kirsty Stainton has worked in many areas of bee research and related subjects. She works as Technical Manager for the National Bee Unit, has performed research for the NBU on invasive pests, Asian Hornet, Small Hive Beetle and honey bee viruses before moving into science communication. 

Geoff Cooper

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