Back in the good old days beekeepers didn’t have to worry about things like Varroa Mites or colony collapse disorder. Sadly those days are long gone and we’re now in the age of new pests and new problems. On top of those problems we have a lot of different possibilities for dealing with pests and issues. Each option for dealing with these issues have their own benefits and drawbacks.
Today we’ll be talking about using Drone Comb to deal with varroa mites. The theory behind using drone comb is that varroa mites lay more eggs in drone brood than worker brood. By giving the queen a place to lay lots of drone brood you give the varroa mites a good place to lay eggs. But why would you want that!?!
Well, because by consolidating most of the varroa eggs to one area you can then kill most of the varroa at the same time.
To use the drone comb you simply put the frame of drone foundation into your deep hive body and wait for a few weeks. The queen lays drone eggs in the comb and hopefully the varroa lay most of their eggs there too. In a few weeks you do your next hive inspection and remove the drone comb, putting in a new drone comb frame.
And what do you do with the filled drone frame you’ve just removed? You freeze it, killing all the drone brood and the varroa eggs. In a few weeks when you remove the other frame of drone brood you put this frozen frame back into the hive allowing the bees to clean out the drone brood and dead varroa eggs and start again.
So what are the issues and benefits of this system?
- There are no chemicals to this system thus you’re not making the varroa stronger and more resistant to chemicals
- It doesn’t require a huge amount of extra equipment
- Removing the bees from the drone comb after it’s been inserted for a few weeks can be difficult. Bees do not like to leave brood.
- If you forget to change out the comb regularly you’ll have a lot more drones and the varroa eggs will have hatched as well. You must regularly switch out this comb.
Have you used drone comb to manage varroa mites? What did you think? Tell us in the comments below.
Photo by Jessica Dally