The screen insert works by
creating a 1- to 2-inch gap between the bottom board and the hive bottom. The
insert's wire mesh allows the mites to fall through the screen and onto the
hive bottom so they can't reattach to the bee. Monthly samples of the fallen
varroa showed that the screen insert reduced the mite populations by about 15
percent. Though not sufficient alone, the Beltsville screen insert can
contribute to integrated pest management practices.
Honey bees produce $270 million worth of honey, beeswax, and other hive
products and pollinate nearly $10 billion worth of crops annually. So their
conservation is of national and international importance. Improved varroa mite
control will be valuable to people involved in the U.S. beekeeping industry,
including hobbyist and commercial beekeepers who rent their colonies for
Researchers are continually developing and improving the screen, but it's
already being advertised for sale.
"It's wonderful to be working with Beltsville scientists in selling a
product that keeps us from having to rely totally on chemicals," says
Steve Forrest of Brushy Mountain, a beekeeping supply company in Movarian
Falls, North Carolina. Forrest says the screen is selling very well and hasn't
generated any returns or complaints from beekeepers.
Varroa mite infestations have become such a serious problem that maintaining
bee colonies without chemical treatment is virtually impossible. Currently, the
only pesticide approved for use as a parasitic mite control for honey bees is
Apistana strip that contains the chemical tau-fluvalinate. Varroa,
however, have begun to show resistance to the chemical, so scientists are
looking for alternatives such as the screen.
As safe and effective chemical controls continue to be researched and
developed, the screen insert will complement Apistan in assisting beekeepers
with the control of invading varroa.By Sarah Tarshis, ARS.
This research is part of Arthropod Pests of Animals and Humans, an ARS
National Program (#104) described on the World Wide Web at
Jeffery S. Pettis is at
the USDA-ARS Bee
Research Laboratory, Bldg. 476, 10300 Baltimore Blvd., Beltsville, MD
20705-2350; phone (301) 504-7299, fax (301) 504-8736.