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Managing Varroa: Brood Breaks

Mites cannot reproduce in the absence of brood. Thus, allowing a brief brood break is an effective way to slow mite population growth in your hive.

A brood break is NOT a mite treatment and will not work to completely eradicate mites. However, it is a very effective IMP strategy for slowing mite reproduction and stretching out the time you can go between chemical treatments.

There are a few ways to accomplish a brood break in your hive. In all cases, you want your hive to be bloodless for a period of 24-26 days.

  1. Do a walkaway split. This means you make a split (divide all of the resources in your hive in half, giving half to each hive) but allow that split to raise its own queen. You might also choose to remove the queen from the original hive and allow both a brood break (only a hive that is queenless for 24-26 days will achieve the brood break).

  2. Pinch an old queen and allow the bees to raise themselves a new queen. If you have a queen that needs to be replaced, consider letting the bees raise that queen for you. It's a great process to watch unfold in your hive, plus it will save you some $$. (Note that if you are not happy with the genetics of you hive, you will need to provide eggs from a different hive).

  3. Cage the queen for 24 days. Using a push-in cage will allow the bees to continue to care for the queen, but won't let her lay eggs across the frames.

  4. German-style queen trapping uses frames with added queen excluders to isolate the queen on one frame at a time, culling that brood in its capped stage. It's an interesting technique to research if you are interested.

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