I sent an email to Mark F. Feldlaufer, Research Leader at the Federal Beltsville Bee Laboratory. I received an almost immediate response. Here are the questions I asked as well as his answers:
My name is Kai Richardson and I am seriously considering taking up beekeeping next spring. I have been trying to find as much
information on Varroa mite control as possible and I have some questions
related to the work of the Beltsville lab that I am hoping to have answered. These are:
1. What method/procedure of Varroa mite control are the researchers at the lab currently recommending?
MF: There are three chemicals approved by EPA for Varroa mite control. They are: a formulation of fluvalinate marketed as APISTAN; a formulation of coumaphos, marketed as CHECKMITE PLUS; and a formic acid gel. Many areas across the country have
experienced mites resistant to fluvalinate. Also, the formic acid gel is currently not on the market due to packaging and shelf-life problems.
2. Where is the best place to find and read the research papers the lab has published on Varroa mite control?
MF: If you send me your address, I can send you the articles on Varroa control. You may also want to contact the Weslaco Bee Lab. They were the lab that worked on coumaphos.
(I provided my address and hope to receive the formal papers in the mail shortly.)
3. Has the lab conducted in the past, or do you intend to in the future, research on alternative treatments, specifically FGMO, Oxalic Acid, etc?
4. If not, why have these methods been excluded from research?
MF: It's basically a question of priorities and if other labs (federal or university) are doing similar research. We do not have the resources to examine every treatment touted as effective. It takes time and
resources to adequately design experiments and insure there are proper controls. The only Varroa control research we are currently involved in is testing formic acid gel, a mite-resistant bee strain (SMR) and drone comb trapping, separately and together. We hope to reduce our reliance on
I will continue to inquire with whatever labs I am able to contact concerning Varroa mite research and I will post my findings here.
Kai A. Richardson
aka Wish the Cuttlefish