Varroa Mite Detection Kit


Equipment you need:

  • General purpose plastic tub (50cm x 40 cm or bigger) 
  • Clear alcohol such as methylated spirits
  • Clear food-grade, screw top container (750ml) Supplied in the kit
  • Small open-mesh metal container (fits inside screw top) Supplied in the kit


1.     Pour methylated spirits into the clear screw top container to approx. two-thirds full.

2.     Locate the queen and set the frame she is on aside (The alcohol will kill the queen)

3.      Choose 2 to 3 brood frames, shake bees off into the large tub. Wait about 2 minutes for forager bees to disperse, house bees will remain in tub.  (house bees will have highest mite count)

4.     Bump the bees to a corner of the tub, then use the smaller mesh cup to scoop up bees until about half full. This will be approximately 300 bees.

5.     Insert the metal mesh cup into the screw top container and screw the lid on firmly. Hold it upright and vigorously swirl the container for 60 seconds.  Any mites present will fall off the bees and settle on the bottom of the container.

6.     If mites are present, you will be able to see the mites on the bottom of the clear container.  For closer inspection, remove and discard the bees and poor the contents into the large clear tub to make the mite easy to identify visually

7.     Record the mite count and in the event mites are detected, refer to best practice for the appropriate treatment and monitoring activity.


This test results in the loss of approximately 300 bees; however, they will be quickly replenished as a healthy queen will lay around 2000 eggs per day.  Discard the deceased test bees and return any remaining house bees to the hive.  Airborne foragers will safely make their own way back to the hive.

Conduct mite checks on your bees at least once per month during the bee season.  If you have a small number of hives (fewer than 10), we recommend that you check every hive.  For commercial operators with apiaries of 100 or more hives, checking at least 10 hives will quickly identify the level of mite risk.  

The Varroa mite is an external parasitic mite that attacks and feeds on the honey bees Apis cerana and Apis mellifera. The disease caused by the mites is called varroosis.

Photo credit: USGS Bee Inventory & Monitoring Lab from Beltsville, Maryland, USA

For further advice visit the Australian Government National pest & disease outbreaks site: