One of the most important items on your beehive checklist is monitoring for varroa mites. And a properly conducted alcohol wash is currently considered the most accurate method for taking mite counts.
While I honestly can say my least favorite part of beekeeping is conducting varroa mite counts, it remains at the top of my to-do list year round. Why? Because without accurate mite counts, I can’t know if my treatments are working. Having official counts, rather than randomly administering mite controls, allows me to verify if the treatment and the timing are what works best in my own bee yard. And yes, your own bees will thank you–by living much healthier and more productive lives–if you make mite counts a priority, too.
Here’s a short How-To I wrote on how I conduct an alcohol wash, and I have Randy Oliver at scientificbeekeeping.com‘s video on alcohol washes to thank for helping me achieve the most accurate mite counts possible (at the moment anyway, since methods always change as science discovers better techniques) . Be sure to check out his highly informative site when you’re finished.