Welcome to NY Bee Wellness, your source for maintaining healthy honey bee colonies

an educational nonprofit program to teach beekeepers honey bee disease recognition & to promote honey bee health

Mite Check Techniques


1) White basin

2) Wide mouth quart mason jar with #8 metal screening

3) 1/2 cup measuring cup

4) Tablespoon measure

5) powdered confectioners sugar

6) spray bottle with water

7) paper plate

8) paper & pencil (or sharpie)


Taking a sample:

1) take a brood frame full of bees (check for queen!) and shake into a box or bucket

2) use ½ cup measure to scoop up bees (~300)For Powdered Sugar shake:

1) Pour into a mason jar that has a mesh cap (#8 screening)

2) Add 2 tablespoons of sugar

3) shake about 30 seconds

4) let sit 1 minute

5) shake out sugar/mites onto white paper plate or other surface

6) repeat until no more mites fall

7) spray with water to dissolve sugar to count mites

Ether roll:
1) pour bees in a glass jar
2) 2 quick bursts of ether (Starting fluid spray can)
3) replace cap & shake vigorously for 30 seconds
4) rotate jar
5) count mites; be sure to check cap

Alcohol wash (or windshield washer fluid):
1) Add 2 oz to glass jar with bees
2) cover and shake vigorously
3) filter with screen, coffee filters
What the numbers mean: Take the number of mites collected, [divide by 3, times 2 = % mite infestation] OR
[#mites/3 X 2 = % mite infestation]*<10% no treatment, 10-12% watch, 12% treat
* Mite count chart (PDF)

Brood Examination (Drone):
Uncap ~100 cells in purple eye stage
Assess general mite load
Sticky Boards
for 3 days; divide by 3 for a 1 day average

Treatment threshold, please read resources for more detailed information:
12 mites in Spring
23 mites in Fall

*From slide 21, Diana Sammataro’s “Diagnosing Varroa”; Lee et al. 2010. Practical sampling plans for Varroa destructor in Apis mellifera colonies and apiaries J Econ. Ento. 103(4).