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Alcohol Wash Cup Instructions

We've put together a document with discussion and instructions for how to build the Randy Oliver based alcohol wash cups.  Find the document here.

We also have a full length video detailing assembly, and have included a brief (and in Jaylene's opinion, hilarious) movie trailer for this video.  Trust me, most people don't find it as funny as Loren and I do!

Tips for Successful Mite Testing

  • Don’t include your queen in your test sample – all bees in the alcohol wash will die!

  • Pour approximately 1 cup of rubbing alcohol into the wash cup before you add the ½ cup of bees to reduce the likelihood of the bees crawling out of the cup.

  • Read this Randy Oliver article for great advice on how to collect a statistically sound sample of bees from your upper brood box and use the wash cups:

      Scientific Beekeeping – Sick Bees

  • After you count the dead mites in the bottom of the cup, pour the alcohol BUT NOT THE DEAD MITES back into your alcohol bottle.  (Please don’t ask how we learned that lesson.)

  • We urge you to financially support Randy Oliver’s research and practical beekeeping tips.  You’ll find lots more beekeeping information and an easy way to contribute at the web site Scientific Beekeeping

  • While Randy found a half cup of bees contained approximately 300 bees, we found fewer bees in our Montana samples.  We counted 164 nurse bees in one sample and 213 in another.  We sampled a queenless colony with a very high percentage of drones and few if any nurse bees, and counted only 116 bees in the half cup sample!  If you base your Varroa treatment decision upon the percentage mite count, you really should know if the number of bees in your sample varies greatly because of the size of your bees or a “personal problem” as you scoop the bees into the ½ cup container.



Many thanks to Jordan and Dylan Kidd for their willingness to make this video AND their eagerness to build 60 screened cups for the Missoula and Bitterroot beekeeping clubs. 


We strongly encourage you to take the “club” approach and freely distribute the test cups.  Varroa mites are an extremely effective parasite, capable of devastating honey bee populations.  Varroa don’t play fairly and you AND YOUR BEEKEEPING NEIGHBORS need to use Varroa treatment options to reduce their numbers.  If you would like to purchase alcohol wash kits and/or components for winter delivery, please contact Loren Stormo at  The Kidd sisters and other young beekeepers are willing to help make a difference with Varroa control, and will help build and ship the kits at a reasonable price.

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