A summary on FGMO provided by Tom Barrett. He is on the FGMO Discussion List on Yahoo (http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/FGMOBeekeeping/)
Summary of FGMO
This summary is written as a service to beekeepers and is derived from
information, supplied by Dr Pedro Rodriguez who has spent many years
perfecting the FGMO treatment herein described. The efforts of Dr Rodriguez
are now being supplemented by an increasing number of beekeepers using FGMO,
as the world slowly but inexorably turns against the use of synthetic
chemicals. These beekeepers are feeding their results back to Dr Rodriguez
using the FGMO Beekeeping Discussion List. Dr Rodgiguez can be contacted at
NB: Do not be tempted to alter the method of treatment stated here. In
particular, use the cords, not what might appear to be a cheaper and easier
commodity to obtain like paper napkins. The cords to the specification shown
are the best method of delivering fatal doses of FGMO to the mites.
On-going research and development is being carried out by Dr Rodriguez team
in Spain and further improvements can be confidently expected. Meantime as
already stated, beekeepers throughout the world are using this system with
Introduction: The purpose of this study was to examine the acaricide effect
of food grade mineral oil, 0.86 density, in the form of emulsion and 15
microns vapour. The research was performed in an apiary of the beekeeping
school of the municipal government of Azuqueca de Henares, (Guadalajara,
Spain) from 13 March to 16 July 2001. The test was performed with 10
colonies hived in Langstroth type hives equipped with 4mm hardware cloth
bottom screens. Test results demonstrate that food grade
mineral oil is an efficient, economic and non-contaminating acaricide,
especially when integrated with other control methods. High resolution liquid chromatography laboratory analysis (HCPL) showed that
food grade mineral oil does not alter the quality of the honey. DNA tests of
mites collected during the study identified Varroa destructor as the primary parasitic mite in the apiary. Similarly, DNA tests of the honey bees determined that three of the colonies belonged to African lineage while the rest belonged to Western European lineage
Full details of this study and the results can be obtained by visiting www.beesource.com
Before we look at the present FGMO treatment method, it may be useful to
look back a little in history to see the development of this treatment.
History of FGMO.
Dr Pedro Rodriguez became convinced of the possible efficacy of FGMO
treatment around 5 years ago. He started off by drizzling FGMO on the top bars of the brood chamber, the object being to asphyxiate the mites and not harm the bees. In this he was only moderately successful, because although he had correctly identified the method of killing the mites, the delivery method of the FGMO
was the 'Achilles Heel' of the treatment. Too deep an oil pool and the bees
died, too shallow an oil pool and the mites lived. In other words the delivery system had too many variables in it to permit continuous repetition of the correct depth of liquid.
And if we think about it, the Delivery System is crucial to all treatments
for varroa. It normally requires considerable laboratory conditions experimentation, and many many field tests before the delivery system is perfected and FGMO proved to be similar. Thus it is often much easier to develop the acaricide than it is to develop the delivery system for it.
What is FGMO?
Food grade mineral oil, also called Liquid Paraffin has a density of 0.86,
is a petroleum derivative that is odourless, colourless, and does not
contaminate, and is especially utilised for operations requiring a mineral
oil exempt from toxicity. It is widely used by industrial nations in the
food industry and medicine, as a vehicle and as a lubricant. Utilisation of
food grade mineral oil as an acaricide is considered highly beneficial.
Because of its efficacy, and lack of effect on the honey, it can be utilised
at times when there are large numbers of mites and when synthetic acaricides
can not be used. This point is covered in detail later.
FGMO treatment today.
The fundamental concept of the original FGMO treatment was proved to be
sound. However what was required was a system of delivery with few or no variables and this is where the Fogger and the 'cords' came into play.
The effect of the Fogger and the cords can best be described as follows:
The body of the Varroa mite is flat offering a large surface/volume
relationship that makes it vulnerable to treatment with oils (factor also
utilised by Italian investigators (Bee-L archives; Rodriguez, 2001). Varroa
mites as well as the honey bees breathe through spiracles through which
gaseous exchange occurs by means of adjustments of their respiratory system
(Pugh et al, 1992). Mineral oil emitted by the Fogger and tracked around the
hive by the bees from the 'cords', blocks the spiracles of the mites causing
their death by asphyxiation.
Whilst honey bees also breathe the oil, the size of their spiracles is much
larger than those of the mites, thus it is possible to utilise mineral oil
as an acaricide without harming the honey bees. Also the body of the mites
is covered by pores which the mites utilise to take in moisture for their
hydration. These pores are also blocked by mineral oil thus interfering with
another biologic process of the mites.
Varroa mites cling to the body of the bees while being carried about. During
the application of mineral oil, in vapour or emulsion form, a fine film of
oil is deposited on the bodies of the bees which interferes with the ability
of the mites to cling to the bees (Lujan, 2000; Kamran, 2001), causing them
to fall off.
The sanitary behaviour of the honey bees causes them to remove the emulsion
coated cords promptly and in the process, their legs become coated with
mineral oil that is later transferred to their bodies when they comb themselves.
Thus the Fogger - a Burgess Insect propane Fogger - gives a short burst of
intensive treatment, every 15 days or so, whilst the 'cords' act on a slower
but continuous basis conveying the treatment throughout the hive slowly but
It is suggested that fogging be carried out at the time when foragers are
out because the bulk of the Varroa will be on the nurse bees, hence the
nurse bees would be more exposed to the oil than when all the bees are in.
Utilisation of screened bottom boards (OMFs).
Screened bottom boards prevent mites that have fallen off, from re-attaching
themselves to the bees due to the effect of the mineral oil. These boards
are modified with a tray beneath the screen in which FGMO-coated papers are
placed for collection and counting fallen mites. This is another weapon
which should be used. By having the facility to insert the sheet of paper,
valuable data on mite numbers can be obtained on an ongoing basis. But do
have the OMF without a paper insert at all other times to prevent
re-attachment of fallen mites, mites which have not been killed by the FGMO
but which have merely lost their hold on the bees.
During the initial varroa infestation, re-infestation can occur from:
a. from feral colonies
b. from weak and dieing colonies being robbed out.
It is thus important to maintain continuous monitoring of the hives to
ensure that the mite is not getting the upper hand. It may also be advisable
at this time, to employ an additional treatment such as Drone Brood
Trapping. If you visit http://www.xs4all.nl/~jtemp/dronemethod.html you can
download an excellent account of how Dutch researchers use Drone Brood
Trapping very effectively. There are of course much simpler and effective
methods of implementing Drone Brood Trapping.
Benefits of using FGMO during the honey season.
Laboratory test results for residues in honey (just performed) reveal zero
It will thus be readily appreciated that FGMO can be applied continuously
during the honey season. It is this continuous and relentless pressure on
the mites without any let up during the honey season which makes FGMO so
effective. And it is during the honey season which normally coincides with
the biggest brood build up in the hives which causes the greatest number of
varroa to be produced. No chemical such as fluvalinate, flumethrin,
coumaphos, formic acid, oxalic acid or lactic acid can be applied to the
hives during the honey season, giving the mites a valuable respite from
treatment. And it is also during these times that reinfestation from feral
colonies can further reinforce the mite population with no possible response
from the beekeeper until the honey is removed. Indeed, since Bayvarol users
rarely monitor, relying on the speed at which Bayvarol knocks down the
mites, the beekeeper will not normally be aware of such reinfestation until
the decks are literally awash with varroa, when it is probably too late to
do anything about it. The problem is damaged bees going into winter. If
there is no treatment at all from May to July it can be assumed that Varroa
numbers will escalate into the thousands by July. This will cause extreme
damage to any bee in the hive. Adding Bayvarol will drop a very high
percentage of mites off the bees, but will do nothing to help the damaged
and weakened bees going into winter. These damaged bees are the main cause
of winter losses from varroa, and the bees that survive are so badly
damaged that they are unable to bear the demands of brood feeding in the
Spring causing Spring losses..
The alternative is to use a non invasive treatment which can be used all
summer keeping numbers of Varroa down, leading to less bee damage going into
winter. In other words use a lower level but continuous treatment.
Effect of FGMO on Tracheal Mites (Acarine).
FGMO in the fog form is very effective for treatment of Tracheal mites
(acarapis woodi). The mechanism is very simple because the bees breathe the
oil and take it right to where the mites are lodged doing the damage, the
trachea. The mites die on contact with the oil and keep new generations from
migrating to their next host. There are no deleterious effects noticed on
the bees when T mites die right in the airways of the bees.
Preparation of the emulsion and the 'cords'
The ingredients for the emulsion are as follows:
500 mls food grade mineral oil
225 grams bees wax
300 grams honey
sixty 500 mm long by 8mm diameter cotton cords. (Some beekeepers have used
the strands of cotton used in making mops.)
The procedure for making the emulsion is: heat the food grade mineral oil in
a metal container, melt bees wax and add to the heated mineral oil. Remove
the container from the heat source and add the honey and cords. Stir with a
wooden spoon to allow the cords to soak well. Allow the emulsion to cool.
Treatment with the emulsion..
For each brood chamber, insert two pieces of the emulsion soaked cords, each
a half a meter long (20 inches approx.), on top of the brood frames under the Queen Excluder (if one is used). Also place two cords on each honey super if the colony is strong. The reason for placing cords on the honey supers is that the mites do fall off
and climb back on the foraging bees and they are then liable to be carried
up into the supers..The cords are replaced when they are removed by the
bees. Thus the cords are a means of continuously dispersing the FGMO
throughout the hive.
Treatment with the Fogger.
It is essential that only FGMO is put into the Fogger. Do not under any
circumstances put the emulsion into the Fogger. If you do you will do
serious damage to the Fogger. The emulsion is used ONLY for the cords.
A stream of vapour (about four seconds per hive) is blown through the hive
entrance every 15 days. The vapour can be blown through the OMF (open mesh
Floor) if desired. Thus the vapour acts as a high pressure treatment forcing
FGMO on to the bees. Mite falls can be expected for several days after using
the Fogger. The Fogger causes no discernible distress to the bees.( See the
notes on the use of the Fogger under Safety Considerations.)
Chemical analysis of the honey.
During the initial experiments carried out Dr. Pedro Rodriguez, samples were
collected at the end of the experiment and sent for analysis. Tests revealed
that the use of food grade mineral oil does not alter the quality of honey.
FGMO in its natural liquid form is obviously non toxic. But when it is
converted into a fog at 15 microns, it is only prudent not to inhale it, any
more than you would inhale exhaust fumes from the back of a lorry. It would
thus be advisable to wear a respirator just as you would do if you were
spray painting. I use a respirator which filters down to .5 micron (which
cost me 60 Euros - about the same in US$), so that I do not envisage any
problem from this viewpoint. I also wear goggles - perhaps super careful -
but that is the way I think! Any other beekeeper in the apiary will also
need to observe the Safety Considerations.
Care must be used when operating the Fogger. Having lit the Fogger, it
should burn for two minutes before any attempt is made to use it. This will
get the coil up to the necessary operating temperature. For best results and
to prevent flaming, use it horizontally or pointing slightly upwards (e.g.
if you wish to fog through an OMF.) Never use the Fogger pointing down to
the ground as this can cause too much FGMO to be released. Like all such
pieces of equipment adhere to the instructions which come with the product
and you should not have any difficulties.