Drone uncapping

In colonies with large brood nests, up to 85% of Varroa mites can be found within capped brood cells, with a preference for drone brood.

Therefore, uncapping drone brood (push the comb/fork of the scratcher through a patch of capped drone brood and pull a large patch of pupae out all at once) and examining pupae is an effective method for detection of Varroa mites.

This method is also effective for Tropilaelaps mites, which spend the majority of their lifecycle within honey bee brood.

(Joe Riordan) Good day, this is Adam Maxwell.

I'm Joe Riordan, we're with Agriculture Victoria and we are here to show you how to do a drone uncapping today.

Drone uncapping to inspect for Varroa mite in your hives.

First step in biosecurity though is to make sure that your hive tools that you're using are washed and there's no honey or wax left on them, so you're not inadvertently moving bacterial spores from hive to hive.

The second step after that is removing the second frame from the edge, making sure the queen's not there, and resting it on the lid of the hive out of the dirt, against a super, or even up against the edge of the single box.

The next thing we're looking for then is drone cells.

I'm going to shake the bees off the frame and have a look.

It's worker cells there in his larvae put his brew laid through there and there's a few drone cells through here.

You can see the larger ones there they're elongated or if you want almost like hexa, hexagonal looking.

What we want to do is be able to pull out a number of drones so we can inspect for Varroa.

They have a, a preference to power to size and breed on drone cells because the drones, the boys are the slowest to develop.

I'll pass you that one.

What we do to do that is we use a drone uncapper or a capping scratcher stand the thing and like our hive tool we want to make sure there's no wa, honey or wax,

So we make sure that they're clean free of honey and wax.

So we're not moving any other diseases from hive to hive.

The next thing is, I'll give you that one there is thank you. Is then we put the uncapper in and we slowly tease out up our drone pupae.

If Varroa was on that, that would stand out being copper red or brown colored that would stand out on that beautiful, beautiful white flesh. Again, easing it up slowly, and you get a really good view all the way around.

In between doing a sugar shake, as we've done on this hive drone uncapping or an alcohol wash, it gives us two points of sensitivity and it gives us an opportunity to see Varroa at a couple of different stages of its life cycle.

This stage under the cap here is when they're breeding or when she's laid eggs.

The other stage is when she's on the external part of the bees.

Another important thing we don't want to cause robbing our ants to start bombarding a hive.

So we don't throw this stuff on the ground.

Some of the Bush Meat Ants take a preference to it and it can cause a bit of an ant activity around also too with bi security around American foulbrood.

All goes in a bin, and then we wash those tools at the end of at the end of that session.

And then we reassemble the hive the way it originally was with the frames in the same order and facing the same way.

And if you see anything unusual when you're doing any of these tests, please call Agriculture Victoria, or the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline.

Page last updated: 17 Jun 2024