Effective varroa mite management is a cornerstone of successful beekeeping. To protect your honeybee colonies from the devastating impact of varroa mites, regular monitoring is essential. One of the most accurate methods for assessing mite infestations is the alcohol wash. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to perform an alcohol wash for varroa mite monitoring, helping you ensure the health and vitality of your beloved bee colonies.

Understanding the Need for Varroa Mite Monitoring

Varroa destructor, commonly known as the varroa mite, is a tiny but formidable parasite that attaches itself to larva and adult honey bees they propagate under the brood cappings, weakening them and spreading harmful viruses. Without proper monitoring and control, varroa mite infestations can quickly escalate, leading to colony decline and even collapse.

Regular monitoring allows beekeepers to assess the mite population within their hives accurately. This information is crucial for deciding when and how to implement mite treatments, ensuring the health and longevity of your bee colonies.

Materials You’ll Need

Before we dive into the step-by-step process of conducting an alcohol wash, make sure you have the following materials on hand:

Pint Jar

Original solid lid & a mesh lid (⅛ inch hardware cloth, cut to match solid lid)

½ cup measure


Rubbing alcohol (50%-70%)

Steps to Follow

  1. Pour alcohol into the jar. Set materials close by.
  2. Find a frame of open brood **check that your queen is NOT on this frame!
  3. Shake adult bees from this frame into the dishpan and scoop up a ½ cup of bees (approximately 300 bees in ½ cup) and pour these bees into the jar.
  4. Seal with a solid lid and shake for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Replace the solid lid with the mesh lid.
  6. Shake the jar contents into a dishpan and count the total number of mites. If there are more than 3, it is time to apply a mite treatment..
  7. Discard bees and mites, wash all your materials;the alcohol can be used again.

Regular monitoring of varroa mite infestations through the alcohol wash method is a fundamental practice for responsible beekeeping. By performing this procedure, you gain valuable insights into the health of your honeybee colonies, allowing you to take timely and effective measures to protect them from the destructive effects of varroa mites. Remember to conduct this procedure regularly, especially during the critical times of the beekeeping season, to ensure the longevity and well-being of your beloved bee colonies. To stay updated with valuable information, be sure to follow our blog posts on thecolonyma.com