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New Tool for Battling Varroa Mite Offered to Beekeepers / February 28, 2001 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Link to Varroa Pop download information

VarroaPop is available for download.

New Tool for Battling Varroa Mite Offered to Beekeepers

By Marcia Wood
February 28, 2001

Beekeepers can now get help from their computers when a dreaded pest, varroa mite, shows up in their hives. New software called "VarroaPop"--short for "varroa populations"--gives U.S. beekeepers a science-based estimate of how fast the mite population in a beehive, or colony, might grow.

The varroa mite, Varroa jacobsoni, is regarded as the single worst pest of honey bees in the United States.

Beekeepers can use the computer-generated estimates in deciding whether to spend money to treat hives with mite-killing chemicals. VarroaPop also helps them decide whether weak, underpopulated hives are doomed--and best discarded--or whether a better option would be to combine the struggling hives with larger, stronger colonies that might be able to withstand mite attack.

Agricultural Research Service research entomologist Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman at Tucson, Ariz., and colleague Robert J. Curry of the University of Arizona-Tucson, developed the software.

To get an estimate of the future size of a mite population, beekeepers input a few simple details, such as the number of mites that they captured when they took a quick sample of their hives.

Available for downloading from the Internet, VarroaPop is the first publicly available software program that beekeepers can use to predict the mite's impact and to manage their hives accordingly. The estimates are derived from mathematical equations that DeGrandi-Hoffman and Curry developed. The equations, in turn, are based on the researchers' analysis of 25 years' worth of scientific data about the mite.

DeGrandi-Hoffman and Curry are now updating VarroaPop to incorporate suggestions from some of the more than 300 beekeepers and others who have already downloaded and tested it. VarroaPop is available at:

http://gears.tucson.ars.ag.gov

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.

Scientific contact: Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, ARS Carl Hayden Bee Research Center, Tucson, Ariz.; phone (520) 670-6380, ext. 105, fax (530) 670-6493, gdhoff@aol.com.

Photo: 'Varroa' jacobsoni mite. Link to photo information

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