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Three Point Varroa Exam

Division of Plant Industry – Apiculture
8995 East Main Street
Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068-3399


This is a quick, simple and effective diagnostic examination for Varroa mite infestation.  It should be conducted at each apiary.

  1. Examine young bees.
  2. Uncap brood.
  3. Use ether roll test.

Examine Bees
When a frame is removed from the brood chamber, closely examine the adult bees.  Sometimes the mites can be seen crawling on the bees’ thorax or abdomen.  However, don’t count on a visual exam only; many times the mites will be hidden within the abdominal segments.  It is not necessary to spend excessive time examining adult bees.  However, if mites are found you can determine the colony is infested and any additional examination is not necessary.

Uncap Brood
The Varroa mites develop within the brood and feed on larvae and pupae.  Therefore, it is important to uncap brood, looking both at drone and worker.  You  might want to remove cell contents from the comb to examine closely.  Uncap approximately ten to fifteen cells.

Ether Roll Test
Equipment needed:  clean jar (carry extra jars – pint or quart), carburetor starter spray (aerosol):

  1. Collect bee sample from brood combs.  Fill jar about 1/3 full of bees.
  2. Sample should be from a minimum of 20% of the colonies.
  3. Give bees a short burst of ether.  Result: inside of jar is slightly moist with all bees down.
  4. Cover jar and roll bees for at least 30 seconds.  This agitation should dislodge any mites from the bees.
  5. Examine the side of the jar for the reddish colored mites.
  6. Dump remaining bees from jar and clean well before next test.


Prepared by: Gordon Rudloff
State Apiarist
Ohio Department of Agriculture