By Scott Weybright, College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences

PULLMAN, Wash. – Saving honey bees is easier when varroa mite infestation is reduced. WSU researchers are hoping mid-season hibernation can help in the fight against the mighty mites.

Varroa mites are pests that weaken bees’ immune systems, transmit viruses and siphon off nutrients. They’re a huge factor in colony collapse around the country.

“Most treatments only kill varroa on adult bees, and are generally only effective for three days,” said Brandon Hopkins, assistant professor of entomology and manager of the WSU bee program. “But a lot of mites live in the brood, which are under a wax cap that treatments can’t touch.