The varroa mite is an ubiquitous parasite on British honeybees.
Just imagine having a spikey dinner-plate stuck to your back, vampiring your vital fluids – and you have an idea of what a varroa mite does to a bee.
So beekeepers treat their bees against varroa throughout the year, but this mid-winter application of a very dilute (3.2%) rhubarb acid (oxalic acid) in sugar syrup is the most important off all, since the hive should have little of no brood in it – which is where the varroa mites themselves breed – and so all the mites are on the bees (the technical term is “phoretic“) and they are vulnerable to the acid, which the bees transfer around their winter cluster.
In this video, the hive is opened for just one minute as the treatment is applied, so that the overwintering cluster of bees in the brood chamber, heated by the bees to a mid-20C temperature even on my chilly rooftop, does not get dangerously cold.
This will reduce the varroa load dramatically and set the Abbey Hive bees up for a healthy build-up into the spring. Merry Christmas !