UBeeO™ - The hive's defense against Varroa mites

Varroa mites are a major problem for beekeepers worldwide, destroying hives and reducing our honeybee populations.

Mite infestations are known to happen worldwide, most prominently in the orange regions on this map:

Map of varroa mite risk by country
photos of Varroa Mites infecting a honey bee

These parasitic mites reproduce in brood cells, feeding on and transmitting deadly viruses to honey bee pupae. Infested pupae can communicate their distress to patrolling honey bee workers through pheromones, which can trigger the workers to perform hygienic behavior.

This is when workers uncap a brood cell and remove infested pupae to prevent the spread of mites and disease to the rest of the colony.

UBeeO™ in the hive

UBeeO™ is a product designed to identify at-risk hives and top breeder candidates based on hygienic behavior performance. It is based on the natural pheromones released by pupae in actual mite infestations or viral infections.

When applied to capped brood cells, UBeeO™ can trigger a measurable hygienic response from the colony within two hours.

The UBeeO™ Score

The UBeeO™ Score is a measure of the hygienic ability of a hive based on their genetics.

It is calculated as the percent difference in the number of uncapped cells at the end of the two hour testing period. You may see a range of scores among your hives.

In some hives, the hygienic response may be very strong, as shown in this image:

Solution Hygienic response in honeybee brood
Non-hygienic response in honeybee brood

…in another hive, you may see a lack of hygienic response that looks more  like this.

Don’t fret! Even if a hive has a low UBeeO™ Score, there is still a lot you can learn from it.

UBeeO™ Scores can provide valuable information about the state of a hive.


Low UBeeO™


Medium UBeeO™


High UBeeO™

  • Hygiene is insufficient to control mite population, not an ideal candidate for selective breeding
  • May require additional mite management steps
  • Unlikely to survive without mite treatment
  • Hygiene may reduce mite population
  • More likely to survive without mite treatment
  • Potential candidate for breeding, if no high UBeeO™ hives are available
  • Hygiene alone may maintain mite population below 3%
  • May survive without treatment*
  • Ideal candidate for selective breeding

* UBeeO™ scores are intended to serve as a guide to facilitate breeding and apiary management decisions.

UBeeO™ guided breeding and management strategies

Now that you’ve wrapped up testing and have your UBeeO™ scores, you can start using your data to make selective breeding and hive management decisions. UBeeO™ scores are intended to serve as a guide and should complement (not replace!) beekeeper intuition. 

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for every operation but we hope our suggestions below help to guide next steps. For more specific UBeeO™ solutions tailored to your operation, please reach out to us.

Selective breeding best practices

Depending on the existing genetic composition of your apiary, you may find a range of UBeeO™ scores to work with. Remember that mite resistance is one of many important colony traits, and other qualities such as honey production, overwintering, and temperament should also be factored into breeding decisions depending on the goals of your operation.

Select your queen and drone producers based on UBeeO™ scores.

We know that hygienic traits are mainly inherited from queens, but drone genetics are very important too. 

  • Use top-scoring hives as queen producers – Grafting eggs and/or making splits from your high UBeeO™ hives (60-100%) will yield your most hygienic daughter queens. 
  • If you do not have any high UBeeO™ scores, medium UBeeO™ hives (40-59%) are your next best option if you want to select within your own operation. With this approach, it will take longer for you to build mite resistance into your stock but it is your more economical option. We recommend requeening with a reliably sourced hygienic queen to build mite resistance traits more rapidly.

*Make sure to wait at least 6 weeks after the new queen starts laying before testing with UBeeO™. This will ensure that the new UBeeO™ Score reflects the performance of the new queen’s offspring, not the old queen’s.

  • Use medium scoring hives as drone producers – Once you make your selection for queen producers, the remaining high scoring hives should be used to assemble your drone yards. Medium UBeeO™ hives will be sufficient as drone producers in this case.

Hive management best practices

One of the most impactful steps you can take is to requeen low scoring hives.

Replacing low scoring queens with hygienic queens sourced from a reputable breeder may increase your UBeeO™ Score and increase protection from mite damage.

Although the upfront cost of hygienic queens is higher, your investment will pay off in the long run. Over time, you may find reduced mite and disease loads, increased honey production, and increased survival.

*Make sure to wait at least 6 weeks after the new queen starts laying before testing with UBeeO™. This will ensure that the new UBeeO™ Score reflects the performance of the new queen’s offspring, not the old queen’s.

Group low UBeeO™ hives in one yard to help mitigate and treat potential mite infections.

If you have the means to, you may want to consider grouping your low scoring hives in one location you can conveniently access. 

  • Streamline mite management – low scoring hives may need more frequent intervention. When you go to inspect this yard, you can come prepared with the mite monitoring and treatment supplies you need to manage these hives.

Can’t find a solution that fits your needs? Let us help you.