When asked what terms people found confusing our friend Harriet said she wondered what a sugar roll test was and why it should be done.  That’s a great question so here’s the answer.

Basically a sugar roll test is something you use to determine if you have Varroa mites.  Here’s how:

  1. Place about 100 bees in a mason jar with a screen lid.  If you’re using canning jars you can simply use the ring of the lid top and replace the solid lid with a thin screen (Size 8 hardware cloth) to allow ventilation.
  2. Add about 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar to the jar.
  3. Cover the screen a bit and shake or roll the jar several times.  Don’t worry too much about the bees, they won’t be hurt if you do this only a few times.
  4. Pour the sugar and any mites onto a white piece of paper through the screen and set the bees aside in the shade to calm down a bit.
  5. Look for little red mites on the paper.  In theory if you find them you know you have some and you’ll maybe consider treating your hive for mites.

But the second part of Harriet’s question gets to a more important point.  Should you do this?

The reality for virtually all of us is that we DO HAVE MITES.  There’s likely no need to test to see if we have them because we do and we’ll not ever be able to stop them from getting into our hives.  So while this test and others will give you a feel of how many mites you have and if you’re at critical mass, needing to treat immediately, the reality is that this test isn’t likely to tell you anything you don’t already know.

Do you do tests for mites?  What tests have you found most helpful?




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