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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    122

    Default Tobacco leaves in the smoker, for varroa?

    I'm quite skeptical about this, but some good friends are beginning to raise their bees organically- and their new book says using actual tobacco leaves in the smoker to kill mites
    .
    Supposedly they drop off the bees while you're working them.

    All I know about tobacco is that nicotine is an insecticide, and that concerns me- putting it into the hives.

    Yet- sounds like an interesting idea too. Anyone hear of this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Edmonton AB Canada
    Posts
    705

    Default

    Hm...never heard of tobacco but heard some people use Rhubarb leaves.

    Konrad

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Asheville, NC
    Posts
    264

    Default

    dont do it....A friend of mine did and he said it made the bees "drunk" for awhile..wandering outside the hive.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Western Pennsylvania
    Posts
    2,071

    Default

    Hello,

    Thsi is old news, Tobacco was used for many years by researchers for
    the purpose of collecting mites for research. Tobacco smoke will knock mites
    off the bee and to the floor, but will not kill them unless high doses
    are applied. But be aware, the smoke of tobacco is hard on the bees,
    and will cause a noticeable disorientation in honeybees.

    Perhaps every mode of varroa treatment has already been tried. If
    there were a treatment that was sufficiently effective, it would probably
    by now have been noted as the ’savior of beekeeping’. But as history
    shows, we keep jumping from one miracle cure to another as we find
    them not as effective as the gossip promotes them. Now on discussion
    lists, these treatments tend to be re-circulated again and again for others
    to discover for themselves in a costly manner, their inadequacies.

    As treatments are a stop gap, short sighted solution, the long term solution
    is to select from your best stock, and not support their inadequacies by
    propping them with treatments.

    Best Wishes,
    Joe

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Loganville, GA
    Posts
    2,172

    Default

    I brought this up some time ago, but have never followed it up. I originally found an article from the USDA about it. No idea where it was? But the article also mentioned grapefruit leaves as having the best potential for knock down.

    I don't use it myself and I agree with what you have to say about it Joe. But there are and probably always will be those that can't help themselves wanting to be the bees hero and kill the evil boogeyman.

    "Other uses of smoke are also possible in a bee colony. Most recently, that from tobacco has been reported to reduce Varroa populations. Unfortunately, this natural material is difficult to control, and the exact dosage that kills mites but doesn't harm bees is unknown. "Smoking" Dr. Frank Eischen, working at the Weslaco Bee Laboratory, has taken this idea to another level (USDA ARS Agricultural Research, August 1997). So far, he has treated bees with the smoke of over 40 plants. The technique is to take cages with 300 to 400 mite-infested bees, expose them to smoke for 60 seconds while covered in plastic, and then count the number of mites that fall off. Most smokes don't kill the mites, it seems, they are simply knocked off the bees. If not caught by a sticky board, the mites, like the bees, "pick themselves up, dust themselves off and do it all over again." It is not clear, Dr. Eischen says, whether the mites are confused or just irritated. Two materials that show the most promise are smoke from creosote bush and dried grapefruit leaves."

    http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/sanfo...97/apaug97.htm
    "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Default

    Nicotene, the important part of the varroa control aspect of tobacco, is a very powerful toxin and as such an insecticide. Used very sparingly it will knock down and kill mites, a little more will knock down and kill bees, a little more and, well you get the picture.

    I would suggest to take a few minutes to do some online study about nicotene and then decide what's right for your bees.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,973

    Default

    there was some reference in od franks old bee magazines (at or about the time varroa became a concern here) to using tobacco as a means of knocking varroa off bee and unto a sticky board for counting mites. a very small quantity of untreated pipe tobacco was used in a hot smoker. it seem to do a favorable job (compared to other componds) of making the varroa drop.

    I did notice an odd smoker (european origin with a class bowl) on the state bee inspector's shelf (he has a collection of smokers) that he told me was 'somewhat' commonly to europe (I am not sure where?) and the burning material was tobacco. the smoker itself was very small and looked a bit like a small pipe. I think you blew out the stem to apply smoke.

    where are those folks from across the pond when you really need a picture?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
    Posts
    2,692

    Default

    The retired bee inspector for the state of Ohio told me about using tobacco. He said you want to faintly smell the tobacco in the smoke from the smoker. It is enough to knock off the mites without hurting the bees. If you use too much tobacco, the bees will get a tobacco buzz and be disoriented/unconscious for 10 or 15 minutes.

    You do need to use a screened bottom board with this method, as the tobacco smoke doesn't kill the mites. It just disorients them momentarily so they fall off the bees.

    You will want to use a natural source of tobacco too, without all the added chemicals.

    This same old guy told me in the old days, folks would soak black walnut hulls in water and then spray that water on their roses to control aphids. The black walnut hull juice is a natural insecticide. The guy told me I could spray my bees with that water to control mites too. (He was at a county beekeepers meeting and I had asked him methods of controlling mites with natural methods instead of chemicals.)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,593

    Default

    I tried it once and got a lot of passed out bees on the bottom board and no noticeable change in Varroa mite numbers.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Tulsa, OK
    Posts
    3,562

    Default

    Seems to me that powdered sugar gets a similar result with less risk for the bees and no poison in the hive.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,179

    Default

    This conversation has me wondering, if burning Thyme in the smoker might kill varro.
    Dan

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