The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
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The Classroom

The Classroom – March 2017

- March 1, 2017 - Jerry Hayes - (excerpt)

Q Monsanto Varroa Research

Jerry, I have read the Classroom for the last few years with interest. Your responses to questions have been meaningful, insightful, helpful and entertaining. My question is: How close is Monsanto to coming up with a product that will be efficient in the control of varroa?

Ben Roundy


We had huge field trials in 2016 with 2000 plus colonies, probably the largest in honey bee research history. The numbers from these trials are getting close to being finished. Preliminary results are inconsistent. In some sites it seemed to slow varroa population growth and in some it didn’t and in some partially.

This is want happens with a brand new technology. Nobody has ever done this before so there is no roadmap and there are hills and detours and route recalculations. It has not gone as fast as anyone had thought, but you never know until you try. And, give Monsanto credit for writing big research checks and providing the skilled scientists who are giving it a try. I am hanging in there until it works consistently. There are fewer and fewer choices based on how we beekeepers have done things in the past. This might be a better one.


Thanks Jerry. It is comforting to small-scale operations like myself to know the “big guys” have not given up and are still doing all in their power to make life better for everyone. Hang in there, you make a difference.


Q Slatted Rack

Hey Jerry! Would you have any idea how this item would be used?



It is called a slatted rack Ken. It is a piece of equipment that ebbs and flows in interest and popularity. It was invented in early 1900’s by CC Miller. It was developed /designed to be placed between the bottom board and first hive body to create additional room for the colony to hang out together (festoon) away from the brood area and theoretically reduce congestion that may encourage swarming. It acts as ventilation space in summer to, again theoretically, make it easier for colony to maintain appropriate temperature and humidity.

Q CCD—Is it Getting Better?

Hi Jerry, I have read news reports that say colony collapse is getting better. Any truth to that?

Allen Christian


This thing we named CCD in 2006 is being managed better all the time and at some level Darwin is participating. Varroa and the Varroa/Virus complex is at the top of the list. There is only one effective Varroa control at present (Amitraz) and commercial beekeepers are very concerned about what will be used when Varroa develops resistance to it as mites always do. Commercial beekeepers are using honey bee biology to allow them to split and divide honey bee colonies artificially and make up losses and build in excess inventory so when inevitable losses occur, there may be colonies to replace with …