Managing your hives with Varroa

For beekeepers in NSW, managing Varroa mite in hives is a whole new skillset to learn. Find the range of support materials to help you build your knowledge on dealing with Varroa mite.

Integrated pest management

Managing Varroa mite is more than just applying miticide strips within a hive. Integrated pest management (known as IPM) uses a variety of techniques to keep Varroa mite numbers below a level where they cause economic damage to the colony and beekeeper.

IPM involves:

  • understanding the Varroa life cycle
  • rigorously monitoring Varroa levels and evaluating results
  • applying IPM controls appropriate to your beekeeping operation, environment and colonies’ developmental phase if Varroa levels are too high
  • continuing monitoring and management as much as necessary, rotating different types of chemical controls to prevent Varroa from developing chemical resistance.

Read the NSW DPI Primefact: Varroa mite management options in NSW

Watch the video on integrated pest management when dealing with Varroa mite in your hives

This introduction to Integrated Pest Management walks through the practical steps beekeepers can take to find, minimise, and either prevent, eradicate, or manage pests and diseases in their colonies.

To learn more about Varroa biology and monitoring, read the Varroa mite Primefact

Sourcing miticide strips

Miticide strips are now approved to be available through commercial suppliers in NSW, for beekeepers whose hives have mite loads at a level that requires chemical treatment. NSW DPI may provide miticide strips in some cases for registered beekeepers.

What do I need to do?

  • Continue your surveillance of hives using an alcohol wash, sugar shake or soapy water wash
  • Report results using the alcohol wash reporting form, selecting the amount of mites you find on average during that surveillance activity. Report your surveillance results here
  • If your results indicate a need for treatment, DPI will contact you
  • If you are concerned about the mite load in your hives, call the response on 1800 084 881
  • Please note - the Varroa mite Emergency Order requires that where there are five or more mites found in a surveillance activity at an apiary, that apiary must be treated within 14 days of detection.

Recommended treatment thresholds by colony phase

  • Varroa % is the number of Varroa mites per 100 adult bees (adapted from Honey Bee Health Coalition 2022 by E. Frost)
  • In brackets (or number of mites found) is the total mites found in an alcohol wash, soapy water wash, or sugar shake of 300 worker bees or ½ cup
Colony phaseWait - immediate control not neededUrgent - Control immediately
(broodless period)
Under 1% (less than 3 mites found)Over 1% (3-5 mites found)
Population increase
(typically spring)
Under 2% (5 or less mites found)Over 2-3% (6-9 mites found)
Peak population
(typically summer)
Under 2% (5 or less mites found)Over 3% (9+ mites found)
Population decrease
(typically autimn)
Under 2% (5 or less mites found)Over 2-3% (6-9+ mites found)