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Why treatment testing is so… testing

Varroa hit

Varroa hit

Beekeepers often wonder why some honeybee colonies have much higher levels of Varroa infestation than others in the same apiary. In fact no two colonies ever seem to have the same level of infestation, so that requires the trialling of new treatments to be very scientific. Rigorous testing of treatment efficacy and repeatability are key features of the registration process.

Max Watkins said: “Few things are certain, but you can always be sure that infestation levels are never equal between colonies in the same apiary.

“Some colonies become more infested than others, but the reasons are usually unclear. One hive may have been robbed by an infested colony, both bees and Varroa vary in their resilience, hive temperature and light exposure may also be factors.

“Fortunately, when we are testing efficacy of products, we can adopt methods to try to level out infestations. For instance, we swap frames of brood from heavily infested colonies with those of less infested ones.”

It’s a tricky topic, so don’t be surprised if your own colonies show inexplicable variations in infestation.

But at least you can be sure that if you use registered products, tough questions will have been addressed in the registration process.

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