Detection of Varroa mite in the Netherlands using tobacco smoke
A. de Ruijter and J. v.d. Eijnde
The parasitic mite Varroa jacobsoni infests larval and adult honeybees (Apis mellifera and A. cerana). Without special methods, beekeepers can only detect Varroa disease in the third or fourth year of infestation when several thousand mites are present in a colony and clinical symptoms have become apparent. However effective control is possible only if Varroa is detected at an early stage. One method of detection involves the use of a thick paper insert, which is slid into the hive entrance and covers the whole floor; hive debris which accumulates on it can then be removed and examined for mites. Combining the use of inserts with chemical treatment has proved more successful than inspection of drone brood or the use of inserts alone. Beekeepers are reluctant to use expensive chemicals for detection and control if Varroa has not been found in the immediate vicinity of their hives. We have shown that tobacco smoke can be an effective and comparatively cheap alternative to such chemicals, and is not as complicated to use as many of them. In the Netherlands where tobacco iswidely used as smoker fuel, we have found that the smoke is effective against Varroa mites and does not apparently damage bees .