First Varroa Mite Spotted

In the low country we’re lucky to have mild winters, but with mild winters comes pests that can survive in the hive longer than usual.  During a routine inspection of my hive I found a new born bee unfortunate to have a varroa mite on her abdomen.


You can see the culprit on the bottom right side of her abdomen.  So far this was the only one I spotted during my inspection.  But where the is one there are probably more.

So far keeping the hive for the past 6 months this is the first that I’ve seen a varroa mite.  Weekly to bi-weekly inspections and my oil filled screened bottom board may be keeping the mite population to a hopeful manageable level.

My plan for the next inspection will be to perform a sugar shake to test the mite level in the hive before the cold weather hits us in January, and asses what preventative methods I need to take in order to help the hive along.


Bee Tea Recipe

You will almost always have to feed your bees at some point, and I’ve come across multiple recipes for “bee tea” online and through friends.  I use a pro feeder that holds two gallons of food. So far this is the recipe that I’ve had the most success with.  Its a simple syrup that is 2:1 parts sugar to water, this can be adjusted based on how much you wish to make.

Be aware that you may not need to add more salt by a 1/2 teaspoon for every 5 cups of water.  This recipe makes about a half gallon of bee tea that lasts about a week to a week and a half in my hive.

Be aware of adding the lemongrass oil to a hot liquid, it will make your whole house smell like lemongrass oil.  My wife did not approve of this when I did that the first time.


  • Stove
  • 3 to 5 gallon pot
  • Container or containers for holding the simple syrup.
    • Plastic milk jug or canning jars.
  • Small pot
  • Suitable container for holding hot tea
  • Funnel


  • 5 cups water
  • 10 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemongrass oil
  • 1 tablespoon loose organic chamomile (nothing out of a bag)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (kosher)


  1. Pour 3 cups of water into a small pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add chamomile and let steep for 10 minutes (I usually dump the chamomile right in the water and then strain it twice).
  3. Remove chamomile from heat and strain into a suitable container.
  4. If chamomile has reduced to less that 3 cups water than add more water to the chamomile tea.
  5. Add 10 cups sugar into a large pot.
  6. Add 2 cups water and the 3 cups of chamomile tea to the large pot.
  7. Add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt to the large pot.
  8. Heat the large pot on high until all the sugar has dissolved about 10-15 minutes. Do not let it boil!
  9. When the liquid in the pot has cooled add 1 teaspoon lemongrass oil (I usually pour the lemongrass oil into the milk jug and pour the bee tea over top to ensure that it disperses nicely)

Here are some other loose organic herbs you can add to the tea if you can get you hands on them.  I would then recommend you don’t use the lemongrass oil or 1/8 teaspoon as it sole purpose is to get them attracted to the food and these herbs may produce the aroma required.  I’ve added the measurements beside them when making 3 cups of tea.

  • Yarrow 1/2 teaspoon
  • Chamomile 1/2 teaspoon
  • Stinging nettle 1/2 teaspoon
  • Peppermint 1/2 teaspoon
  • Dandelion flowers 1/2 teaspoon
  • Sage 1/4 teaspoon
  • Hyssop 1/4 teaspoon
  • Thyme 1/4 teaspoon
  • Lemon balm 1/4 teaspoon
  • Echinacea 1/4 teaspoon
  • Rue 1/8 teaspoon or a pinch

You can also add the bees own honey that you may have harvested to the recipe, one cup or 1/2 pound per recipe ought to be good enough.