Alcohol wash to check for varroa
Unfortunately, the varroa mite is present in NSW. Beekeepers are required to perform an alcohol wash to test for varroa every sixteen weeks.
Our alcohol wash test kits are durable, easy to use, and reliable.
What is an alcohol wash?
The alcohol wash test is currently recommended as the most reliable way of detecting the presence of varroa mite in the hive. The alcohol wash test can easily be carried out at a routine hive inspection. Nurse bees are shaken about in a solution of alcohol (methylated spirits is fine) to wash off any mites that are present on the bees. Any mites present will be visible at the bottom of the test bottle.
How do I do the test?
- Place about 100mL of alcohol at the bottom of the jar. Metho will do.
- Place a sheet of newspaper or plastic, etc next to the hive you need to test. Some people use a plastic laundry tub.
- Remove a brood frame and check that the queen isn't on it. Then shake the frame out over the newspaper.
- The field bees will fly away immediately. The bees left over are nurse bees, which are more likely to be carrying the mite.
- Place these bees into the basket and there you have it: a bee cocktail. Shake, don't stir. Some people up-end the bottle to make sure that the bees 'soak' in the alcohol.
- When you've finished the test, you can empty the dead bees out into the newspaper and throw them out.
What does the mite look like?
Does the alcohol wash kill the bees?
Yes. Bees don't like alcohol. This is unfortunate but we all have to do our bit to keep on top of this exotic pest. This means that it is very important that you make sure you don't alcohol wash the queen!
What do I do if I think I have a positive test?
Beekeepers in NSW are required to report the results of their alcohol wash test, either negative or positive, here. If you are concerned, you can also ring the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.