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

Once you’ve wrapped up testing and have your UBeeO™ scores, you can start making selective breeding decisions to improve your hives’ resistance to mites and other pathogens.  Read more about Breeding and Management Strategies.

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