Product Review - Varroa EasyCheck
This is my review of the Varroa EasyCheck from Veto-Pharma.
I like to keep up on my mite counts. Treating for mites when they have crossed threshold is one of the best ways to keep your bees happy and healthy. But counting your mites can be intimidating for new beekeepers and seasoned ones alike. Veto-Pharma has designed the Varroa EasyCheck with the goal of taking any guesswork out of the process.
The EasyCheck is a clear plastic container with a yellow plastic lid that screws on, and a basket that sits inside the container. A clearly worded instruction sheet comes folded inside the basket. It costs $20 and can be bought from most beekeeping supply places. I got mine at the Wooster bee workshop from Mann Lake.
How to use it
The EasyCheck is pretty easy to use:
1. Remove the yellow lid from the cup
2. Select a frame of bees from your hive. The frame should be a brood frame - preferably mostly capped brood.
3. Make 100% sure the queen is NOT on this frame.
4. Put 300 bees into the basket inside the cup. There are a couple ways to do this. One is to hold the frame vertically and drag the cup from top to bottom across the bees on the frame. The bees will fall into the cup. Another way (which I prefer) is to shake the bees off the frame into a plastic tub, then scoop them into the cup.
5. Put the lid on the cup and put your frame back in the hive.
6. Bump the cup on the ground to push the bees to the bottom of the basket. Open the cup and add your alcohol solution
7. Put the lid on the cup and shake it vigorously for 60 seconds.
8. Count the mites in the bottom of the cup.
This was my setup for using the EasyCheck:
The tub is a dish washing tub I got from Dollar Tree for $1.
Let's talk about the fluid. You can use any alcohol solution you want. You can use diluted rubbing alcohol if you want, but I found it cheap and easy to use Winter/All Season windshield washer fluid. It's cheap, convenient, and smells better than rubbing alcohol.
After identifying a frame to sample from (no queen!), I put the tub on the ground and bumped the frame into the bottom of the tub, dislodging the bees. Next, I scooped up the bees in the cup. There are two lines on the inside of the cup - one for a small sample (150 bees) and one for a normal sample (300 bees). I chose to use 300 bees because it is a more precise count, and honestly it's not that many bees. The foragers fly away immediately, leaving the nurse bees behind. This is what you want because the nurse bees are the ones with the most mites on them. I gave the cup a quick bump on the ground, then poured the washer fluid on them up the the line on the cup. Then I channeled my inner bartender and shook the cup vigorously for about a minute. Maybe longer. Some of the washer fluid did leak out onto my gloves. I am going to take a better look at the cup to see if it's molded right because it's not supposed to leak. That's not a big deal really, but I feel like it's a defect.
I set the cup down and let things settle. Then I looked at the bottom of the cup and counted the mites, which were honestly really easy to see. Two of the hives I tested has on mite for 300 bees (0.33%) and one hive had 4 mites per 300 bees (1.33%). I don't treat until I hit 3%, so we'll spare the girls the Oxalic Acid treatment for now.
Here's how the mites look in the bottom of the cup:
Over all, I like this product. It's not rocket science - you can do the same thing with a mason jar and a piece of molded screen - but it's nice that it's all self contained. The cup is molded in a way that makes it really easy to see the mites in the bottom, and you can easily reuse the fluid by pouring it through a coffee filter.
I am a little concerned about it leaking, but I am going to play around with how tight I had the lid screwed on and see if it was user error. If it still leaks, I'll email the company and Mann Lake and see if they send me a replacement.
Whatever method you use, it's very important to count your mites and stay up on treatment. This device makes it easy and doesn't require a lot of equipment.