In the October meeting, Will Hicks gave a great talk about the pests that typically pester our bees, including a slide show from the state inspectors’ archives. He focused primarily on Varroa because, as he said a few times, the mites are the most pervasive and problematic of all the present day hive invaders.
The bee to the right has at least 2 Varroa destructor mites in view on its back and is suffering from deformed wing virus. She came from one of the hives on the CCCC campus in Chatham county. If you see a worker in your hive that is as severely afflicted as this one here, then you definitely have a problem. Varroa are ubiquitous, it is a certainty that they are present in all of our hives. However, if they are kept at manageable levels, then you should rarely if ever spot a mite while working your hive.
Mr. Hicks went over the process of performing the sugar shake test. Click here to see a 2-minute video of some guy named Phil performing the test. There are other monitoring methods, such as sticky boards and the alcohol test, but the former is no substitute for a real test and the latter is just like the sugar shake except that it kills your bees. Whether you kill your bees or coat them in sugar, you should be testing your mite levels every few months and definitely once in the fall before it gets too cold to take corrective action.
The rest of the talk was an overview of less common or less destructive pests.