Alcohol wash to check for varroa

Unfortunately, the varroa mite is present in NSW. Alcohol wash or soapy water wash are two good methods of finding varroa mites in your hive and determining your mite load.  

This varroa mite testing jar is best suited for alcohol wash. The silicone seal in the lid makes it airtight and spill-proof. 


Is this alcohol wash container leak-proof?

This alcohol wash container is not 100% leak-proof but early customer feedback is that the seal in the lid makes it much less likely that you will end up with metho-soaked gloves. As always, you should be careful when you alcohol wash your hives and make sure that your smoker and metho are kept far apart from each other. 


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 150mL 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. 
  • Scoop half a cup of bees (approximately 300) into the test jar. There you have it: a bee cocktail. 
  • Shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. Lift the basket out of the test jar and inspect the liquid for mites. 
  • Repeat the wash two more times. If there are mites present, mite threshold as a percentage can be determined by dividing by three.
  • When you've finished the test, you can empty the dead bees out into the newspaper, bag them, and throw them out. 


What does the mite look like?

The varroa mite is oval, red-brown coloured, flat, and around 1mm long by 1.5 mm wide. You can see some pictures here at Bee Aware. You can also watch an information video put out by the DPI, here


I just found mites in my hive! What do I do?

The DPI's Varroa Mite Management page is here. Mite detections must be reported to the DPI. 

We stock a number of varroa treatment strips which can be found here

As always you can contact our friendly staff if you have any questions about your hives. 



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