Dr Dewey M Caron - PolliNation - Episode Art

Dr. Dewey M. Caron is Emeritus Professor of Entomology & Wildlife Ecology, Univ of Delaware, & Affiliate Professor, Dept Horticulture, Oregon State University. He spent 40+ years teaching, doing bee extension and bee research at Cornell (1967-70), University of MD, College Park (1970-1981) and University of DE, Newark DE (1981-2009).
Since retirement in 2009, he spends 4-6 months each year in Bolivia, where he keeps Africanized bees and teaches beekeeping (in Spanish). The rest of the year he is in the northern hemisphere; his 5 backyard colonies in Tigard OR are docile European bees. He moved from Newark to Portland, Oregon following retirement to be closer to 5 grandkids. He manages to return to East coast several times each year to give Bee Short Courses and lectures to various bee clubs and state organizations. He remains active in EAS. His first EAS meeting was 1967 at University of MD. He has served as President (1986), Director (both from MD and DE), Chairman of the Board for 8 years, Chair of several Board committees and currently is Advisor for EAS Master Beekeeper program. He was program and Short Course chair for 2016 New Jersey and Program Chair for 2017 Delaware, his 50th year in EAS.

Listen in to this episode to learn about how you can keep your colonies safe from varroa mites, and what tools you can use to prevent and manage them.

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“Whatever stage you have mites in your colonies, we have some tools, things that we can do that will then help blunt the advantage that the varroa mite seems to have with our European honeybee.” – Dr. Dewey M. Caron

Show Notes:

  • Why varroa management is such a problem for beekeepers
  • How the Mite-A-Thon helped Dewey in the fight against varroa mites
  • Why monitoring for varroa mites is important for beekeepers
  • The steps that beekeepers can take to manage and prevent varroa mites
  • How you can use the “Tools for Varroa Management” guide
  • What other tools are available through the coalition website
  • How the Honeybee Health Coalition began
  • Why the most hygenic bees are Dewey’s favorite

“It’s not if your colony has varroa mites, that’s not the question you should be asking. You should be asking how many mites does my colony have? ” – Dr. Dewey M. Caron

Links Mentioned:

5 thoughts on “25 Dr. Dewey M. Caron – Managing and Preventing Varroa Mites

  1. Check out the links above (in the show notes). The BIP Tools for Varroa Management is really exhaustive and contains lots of practical tips. Are you looking for something more specific?

  2. Pingback: Bee Class for 2018 | R. Burns Honey

  3. Wow, I find his statement that our bees have little in the way of defense of varroa mites very disingenuous. I’ve been keeping bees for eight years without treatments and have colonies that make boat loads of honey without feeding. Bees can handle mites in different ways such as grooming, hygienic behavior, and biting. By not developing breeding programs that target those behaviors, we will continue to have colonies that have strong mites and weak bees. Very disappointed in his lack of research in successful beekeeping that choose enhanced natural selection.

    • Thanks Jeff. I am glad to hear about your success. It is, regrettably, true that varroa resistance is not widespread. All the traits you list above, while existing in populations, require inbreeding to express at high enough levels to allow bees to exist with no treatment or intervention. Dr. Caron is a strong advocate of bee breeding programs, but it is clear that after many attempts by USDA and bee breeders, that building these traits into existing programs is difficult (although not insurmountable). The problem is manifold: 1) the most durable resistance traits (e.g., varroa sensitive hygiene), while present in US stocks are difficult and expensive to test for, 2) there are very few breeding programs with pedigreed datasets that enable systematic selection for the traits (e.g., unlike other livestock, there remain no honey bee ‘breeds’ – arguably there has been very little stock improvement among honey bees at all), 3) most other livestock programs can store germplasm in the form of semen, but the quantity of semen needed for a colonial organism are too large for this to be feasible, 4) many honey bee traits are complex and can’t be maintained without controlled mating, which is difficult for a creature that intentionally tries to outcross with as diverse a gene pool as possible, 5) a single incident of queen loss and the trait will be lost – and queen loss, unfortunately has been increasing of late. These are all factors that Dr. Caron is aware of, but he didn’t have time to expand on these. Hopefully, we can have someone on soon from the Hilo queen breeding initiative in Hawaii that appears to be having success at overcoming some of these obstacles. Thank you so much for listening.


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