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Thread: Varroa

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2003


    I just found out that my hives have Varroa yesterday. When I was looking through some of the books that I have I read that Apistan only kills 97% of the mites. Is there anything that will kill them all? And how do vorroa spread? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA


    >I just found out that my hives have Varroa yesterday.

    I believe that every hive in North America has them.

    >When I was looking through some of the books that I have I read that Apistan only kills 97% of the mites. Is there anything that will kill them all?

    No. 97% is about as good as it gets. The "conventional" treatment is Apistan. When you get resistant mites, which I have had, it will not even kill 50%. IMO I would NOT use Apistan. Check mite will probably kill more mites, but it is very poisoness. IMO I would not use Check mite.

    There are a lot of alternatives. Thymol is availabe as crystals or as Api-Life Var from Brushy Mt and seems to have some effectiveness. I have not used it. I don't care for the smell of Thymol myself.

    Formic acid gel was approved but apparently is not currently available as in the gel. You can however buy formic acid. It is pretty effective.

    Oxalic acid had not been approved by the EPA and the FDA that I know of, but it already in food and is very effective and is available at the local hardware store in the paint section as a wood bleach. It is an organic acid that is already in honey (and is the tartness in rubarb) and has been approved and is in common use in Europe and New Zealand and other places.
    Topbarguy (aka Bwranger) has come up with a cheap and effective way to administer it or you can buy a vaporizor made to do this:

    Or it's available in strips:

    Other methods discussed on this forum are FGMO as fog (using an insect fogger to administer it) and cords with FGMO emoulsion, and small cell beekeeping. There are detailed in the POV section (Point of View) and in forums here. There is a FGMO forum and a Biological Beekeeping forum that discusses small cell.

    The most important thing to do is learn to monitor the mites. Whatever method you choose to do you have to get feedback as to whether it is working. I failed to do this thinking that Apistan would take care of it. It did not.

    A 24 hour natural drop rate is a useful tool for monitoring. You can either buy a Screened Bottom Board (SBB) or you can buy a sticky board or you can make one or the other. The principle of the SBB is to let the mites fall through the screen where they can't readily hop back on a bee. They die waiting for a bee to come by. The sticky board goes on the regular bottom baord and is a piece of "sticky" paper, like contact paper with a mesh on it so the bees can free themselves. It's sticky enough to trap the mites and not the bees. You put it in, wait 24 hours and count the mites. If you don't have many mites you can count them all. If you have a LOT of mite fall, you can count the mites in a square inch of dense mites and then figure how many square inches of that you have. Basically if you only have four or five mites in 24 hours you're doing fine. If you have 50 to 60 in 24 hours you need to be planning your next step because the mites are taking over.

    >And how do vorroa spread?
    They are like little ticks on the bees, but are more mobile that they appear. When a hive is robbing another hive that is crashing from the mites, the mites jump on and ride back to the robber's hive. There they jump to a younger bee perhaps and end up in the brood chamber where, just before capping, they get in the cell with the larvae. After the larvae is capped they start laying eggs. About one every 24 hours. The first is a male the rest are female. After the eggs hatch they feed on the larvae and when they reach maturity the females mate with the male and emerge with the bee.

    The Varroa mites prefer Drone cells. Probably because they can reproduce more there because the drone cells are capped longer and the mites can lay more eggs and more of those eggs will reach maturity in time to mate.

    Another Varroa control method is to use drone foudation so the bees will put all the drone brood in one place and remove the drone brood when it's capped and freeze it. Freezing overnight will kill all the varroa and the drone larva. Then you put the comb back and let the bees remove the dead larvae and fill it with brood again. You can also use this as a monitoring method. If you have a severe infestation you will find the purplish brown dots of Varroa on the Drone brood. Just take an uncapping fork and pull them out of the cells and look.

    Varroa is the biggest problem we face, but there are others.

    There are Tracheal mites and there are the old standby's of American Foulbrood (AFB) and European Foulbrood (EFB) and Chaulkbrood etc.
    Last edited by BWrangler; 04-07-2017 at 07:14 AM. Reason: updated link


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