Tag Archives: Mites

Step by Step Guide to Powdered Sugar Roll and Alcohol Wash for Detecting Varroa Mites

Alcohol Wash

Supplies needed: Rubbing alcohol, mite jar, collection tub, ½ cup measure. Note: there are devices made specifically for this test. Here is one example from Let It Bee in Greenville WI.

  1. Prepare testing jar with ½ cup rubbing alcohol
  2. Select a frame with open and capped brood with many nurse bees – Make sure the
    QUEEN is NOT on the frame
  3. Shake frame over tub to collect a ½ cup sample (about 300 bees) add to testing jar cap
    and shake 20 secs then 20 secs more
  4. Once settled raise up test jar and count mites on the bottom of the jar

Advantages: accurate mite count each time, quick and easy
Disadvantages: loss of approximately 300 bees, alcohol is flammable – keep away from

Powdered Sugar Roll

Supplies needed: Powdered sugar, jar with screened lid (#8 hardware cloth), white collection tub or white disposable plate, ½ cup measure, spray bottle with water

  1. Select a frame with open and capped brood with many nurse bees – Make sure the
    QUEEN is NOT on the frame
  2. Shake frame over tub and collect a ½ cup sample (about 300 bees)
  3. Add the 1/2 cup of bees to the testing jar and screw the cap on
  4. Add powdered sugar – 2 Tablespoons
  5. Roll the jar to cover bees in sugar and let sit in the shade for 2 FULL MINUTES – this step is VERY important
  6. After 2 minutes, roll the jar again and then shake the jar upside down into the collection bin for 1 full minute. Mites will drop into the collection bin and the bees will stay in the jar.
  7. Remove the jar lid and pour the bees back into the hive.
  8. Spray the collection bin with water. The powdered sugar becomes translucent making it possible to count the mites.

Advantages: Bees are kept alive and can be returned for clean-up back in the hive.
Disadvantages: This method is more time intensive than the alcohol wash and not as
accurate due to variables including nectar on the frame and excessive humidity which has a tendency to clump the powdered sugar. When clumped the powered sugar does not remove as many mites.