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  1. #1
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    Default Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    On Beesource today Michael Palmer wanted to know if anyone had heard of such a possible study in this area. The thread went off on another thread so I thought I would post it here. It is an interesting and hopeful concept.
    I contacted Brian Spencer at Applied Bio-nomics, the producer of Stratiolaelaps a bug that would attack varroa mites and apparently there have been a couple of trials that have been successful. The following is a copy of part of my email exchange with himstart at the bottom and scroll up)
    [email]
    You can buy Stratiolaelaps from any of the distributors on the list.
    I think George was putting in about 50 ml per hive. So, one bottle can do 20 hives.
    Brian

    From: Bill Abell [mailto:abell.bill@gmail.com]
    Sent: February-20-13 4:50 PM
    To: Brian Spencer
    Subject: Re: [Applied Bio-nomics contact] Varroa Mites

    Brian,
    Thank you for the information and your efforts on behalf of the honey bees. I certainly hope you will be successful. I do not use any chemicals in my 4 hives as I think it is incredibly dangerous to the bees, myself, my family and friends who get some of the honey. It is difficult to keep the hives healthy and alive because of varroa directly and indirectly through disease, killing the bees. I know that most beekeepers even if they now use chemicals would be ecstatic if you or someone came up with a natural remedy. I assume that you do not have an objection with me sharing your email with my fellow beekeepers. I believe the beekeeping community would be behind such an effort and would give you all the help we could.

    On Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 6:15 PM, Brian Spencer <brianabl@telus.net> wrote:

    Hi Bill

    I have copied Margaret Skinner, a professor at University of Vermont, who is investigating the opportunity of doing research on the topic, and, George Scott, a researcher at SRI Inc in Ontario, Canada. George has, single handily, proceeded with this research in spite of being challenged by provincial and federal authorities, making things uncomfortable for him. I have run into similar, subtle discouragement in the past 15 years when I was trying to get trials like this one done.
    As far as I am concerned, I have seen enough evidence to say that I am confident that Stratiolaelaps scimitus effectively controls the Varroa mite, without posing any risk to a hive.
    But, being the one who is producing the product, I am not the one who should be “objectively” scrutinizing it.
    There is no doubt that bee keepers need a lot of help. Honey Bees, in the US, do not fall under USDA Aphis plant protection. Because they are not native, they have always been treated as “livestock” falling into a group of government departments that has no interest or understanding of insects, outside of Veterinary medicine.
    For me, this is just a personal thing. We make our money selling this mite to control agricultural plant pests. With the small amounts that would be used in Honey Bees, it isn’t a big deal for us. So, I just want to help.
    I certainly want to stay involved with the research, so, I will take a look at the forum. Perhaps George can send a link to one of his videos. This is the way that we will make progress, from the beekeepers back up the chain. I am currently researching a new formulation of the carrier that will allow us to do trials in people’s houses for Bed Bugs. If we can come up with a viable product, we may market this product, which is already being used by pet distributors to control poultry lice and phoretic mites in reptiles and tarantula, and Hermit Crabs, directly to Bee Keepers. And, we have a trial in Oregon at a Dog Kennel for Flea control going on. But, from a commercial point of view, this mite usually works in a single application, providing persistent control, so, all we are really going to be doing is taking millions of dollars away from the chemical industry, which is probably why we run into such interesting roadblocks.
    Brian



    From: Bill Abell [mailto:abell.bill@gmail.com]
    Sent: February-20-13 1:07 PM
    To: Brian Spencer
    Subject: Re: [Applied Bio-nomics contact] Varroa Mites



    Brian,
    I am just a beekeeper in Lexington, VA. I saw a forum post discussing a rumor that someone was working on this type of effort to control varroa. I am sure you can appreciate that beekeepers all over the world are interested. You can see the forum thread at http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?278414-Possible-Mite-Control
    Perhaps you could join the forum and let everyone know what is hoped for and the status. Thanks.
    Bill

    On Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 2:31 PM, Brian Spencer <brianabl@telus.net> wrote:

    I need to know who is asking first.
    I reason I am asking is that we have found considerable roadblocks doing this research. The research in Canada has been largely secret because of this. Once I know who you are, I will pass your contact info on to the researcher, who will then decide whether or not to contact you.
    It is hoped that the Pennsylvania research will be out in the open, but nothing has happened yet.
    Brian

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    Applied Bio-nomics' website characterizes Stratiolaelaps scimitus as "an accomplished generalist soil predatory mite . . . " http://www.appliedbio-nomics.com/pro...stratiolaelaps

    I must be missing something - How does a predatory bug that lives and feeds in the soil help with Varroa?

    Maybe it is supposed to help with small hive beetle?
    Last edited by shinbone; 02-20-2013 at 10:37 PM.
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 12 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  3. #3
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    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    It is being tested on mites. I am interested in following this one. I would guess these little bug to bite bigger bugs comes in some carrier material and I can see that being sprinkled on clustered bees. I doubt if phoretic mites would suffer much from it.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    It is being tested on mites. I am interested in following this one. I would guess these little bug to bite bigger bugs comes in some carrier material and I can see that being sprinkled on clustered bees. I doubt if phoretic mites would suffer much from it.
    True, but depending on life-span and persistance, it might be able to hang around long enough to wait for the phoretic mites to hatch and then ambush them. So, *perhaps* one treatment could catch multiple generations?

    I'll be *really* curious to see where this one goes....

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    you could realease it in the hive and it would run around hopefully predating varroa and not eggs/young larvae.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    Yes, that is the rub JRG. The critter is described as opportunistic and lots of opportunity in a brood nest without mites. That being said, the anecdotal information from canadian experiementers does not state brood predation as a concern. No real info yet however. I will want to wait and watch on this one.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    I still don't get how a bug that lives in/on the soil eating soft-bodied larvae is supposed to live in a bee hive and eat hard-bodied adult varroa mites off of moving bees. Both the two enivronments and the two food sources are substantially different from one another.

    Regardless, I hope it works. We are in badly need of any and everything that combats varroa mites without hurting the bees.
    Last edited by shinbone; 02-21-2013 at 11:11 AM.
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 12 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    Wow!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    A brief mention of an experiment in the U.K. using Stratiolaelaps to control varroa is linked below. Pretty thin on details except to say the beekeeper doing the test claims reductions in varroa loads which she attributed to putting Stratiolaelaps mites into the hives. This is all I could find when doing a Google search on the subject.

    http://chrissladesbeeblog.wordpress....-mitey-fallen/
    Last edited by shinbone; 02-21-2013 at 11:39 AM.
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 12 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    Another email forwarded to me by Brian Spencer at Applied Bio-nomics from George Scott At SRI Lab who is conducting trials in Canada.
    It looks promising. Perhaps someone knows Stacy Hickman the entomologist at the University of VT. I am wondering why a chemical company would be funding this.

    > From: "SRI Inc" <sri@itcanada.com>
    > Date: 21 February, 2013 8:21:08 AM PST
    > To: "Brian Spencer" <brianabl@telus.net>
    > Cc: "Sandy Mitchell" <nic@niagara.com>, "Cynthia Scott-Dupree" <cscottdu@uoguelph.ca>, "Marg kaladopolus" <panosmarg@gmail.com>
    > Subject: [Applied Bio-nomics contact] Varroa Mites and L3K Apiary trials
    >
    > HI Brian,
    > Thanks for taking the precaution.
    > I made a full presentation with noted etymologist Stacey Hickman, at the Niagara Beekeepers meeting in Feb. She was a big hit !!
    > We had a professional video team record the session. I will provide you with the video once we complete the edit. This information update session was well received.
    >
    > There is no doubt that the varroa populations are seriously reduced by the HAM Ss. There is no doubt that the bio treatments improved bee numbers and hive hygiene. Also our highest honey producer was a bio treated hive. We are starting to look at some additional issues like drone impact, queen cell, swarming and hive replication activity, and reduction of other negative hive issues including bacteria and fungal issues.
    >
    > The current trials are in their second year. We are looking at side effects during the over wintering phase. Last year we had a very non typical warm winter, but all of the colonies treated with HAM Ss overwintered very well. This winter is typical.
    >
    > During a warm spell in Jan. 2013, we opened one hive for sampling. The bees were in very good order. Hygiene was excellent. The seals were good and the bee ball was strong. Food supplies were adequate. We predict a successful overwintering. All hives are currently showing normal healthy overwintering behaviour. Most importantly they are all alive.
    >
    > We have been focusing on bio control dosage, frequency and timing.
    > In 2013 we intend to reduce the dosage from 250 ml to 150 ml. In our opinion 250 ml is too much for a two super colony. 250 ml would be for the 3 large super brood colonies only.
    >
    > For frequency, we intend to inoculate once in the spring. The HAM Ss appears to be breeding in the hive. In our strongest hives , when we went to inoculate in the fall, we found two issues:
    >
    > 1. The HAM Ss were still present from the spring inoculation
    > 2. Varroa numbers were very low going into the winter season.
    >
    > We believe they, HAM Ss, are breeding up to the level of available varroa. One test hive did not get a fall inoculation and it appears to be progressing very healthily.
    > We will know more as these hives come out of the winter.
    >
    > So for these questions of dosage, frequency and timing we are looking at the following:
    >
    > 1. DOSAGE -150 ml
    >
    > 2. TIMING - earlier inoculation than as prescribed by the provincial apiarist for chemical treatments ( about 1 to 2 weeks ) When the varroa appear on our sticky boards at 5 rather than 10, we will bio control inoculate.
    >
    > 3. FREQUENCY - 1/2 of our colonies will only get one spring treatment. The other 1/2 will get inoculations in the spring and fall. We will then observe the activity and survival rates as these colonies over winter for the third year.
    >
    > After three overwintering successes we will feel very comfortable about publishing.
    >
    > In a separate beeyard we are going to inoculate a central feeding hive for varroa infected 5 colonies. As the bees emerge in early spring they will enter the feeding hive. In order to get to the feed they must pass through a full framed 9 frame super, coated with HAM Ss. We are looking to see if the bees transport the HAM Ss back to the hives as hitch hikers. Certainly they transport varroa by this hitch hiker method, so we will have a look. This has the potential to be a very inexpensive solution for the big commercial beekeepers.
    >
    > It may be that the HAM Ss leave the hive to go to ground for the winter and we doubt that they will migrate up to the hive once they leave, so re-inoculation is important. We will test for over wintering.
    >
    > The single biggest hurdle to this program may be the small hive beetle. This destructive bee killer is 40 kM south of us, 120 Km upwind (west ) and 20 kM north of our main beeyard. I have been in touch with the nearest bee keepers and we will not be importing any bees within 2 Km of our main test area. The small hive beetle however can fly 40 Km, so it is only a matter of time.
    >
    > It is our hope that the distinctly different behaviour ( rapid movement of adults and larva ) of the SHB will attract the feeding impulse of the HAM Ss. If there is any contact you have to introduce the SHB adults and larva to the HAM Ss under microscopic lab conditions, we would like to see if they feed and their feeding behaviour. Do you have any beekeeper friends in Hawaii? Let me know as this would solve another piece of the puzzle and allow us some form of protection and SHB damage prevention.
    >
    > Several other beekeepers are going to be joining this trial as they see the potential for solving many of the problems with chemical resistance and other chemical related negatives.
    >
    > At this point I do issue a caution as we do not know all of the side effects nor have we quantified all of the negatives or shortfalls of our potential bio control solution. On the other hand, there also may be many more positives for honey bees. There may be behavioural changes within the hive stimulated by the large presence of the HAM Ss. The bees may be using the HAM Ss like a tool as observed by the keepers of spiders and crabs. This is a potentially powerful aspect of your bio control and a variable we are trying to define for better understanding of all the mechanisms at work here.
    >
    > I have a meeting tonight with our primary funding group. SRI Petro Chemicals Inc has provided much of the funding in the past and they have notified me that they will only cover 50% of our go forward work on honey bees and the major bio diversity initiative we have been working on for the past 7 years. Keep your fingers crossed in hope for our success tonight.
    >
    > Cheers
    > G
    >

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    I'd like to see an experiment with a negative control ("no Stratiolaelaps") to see if/how much effect these mites have on Varroa. Maybe that's included, but no mention made it into the e-mail of the difference between treated and untreated.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    Could it really end up being this easy??
    We will all be watching this one!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    Interesting!

    I wonder how the predatory mites are introduced into the hive . . . ?
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 12 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    I'd like to see an experiment with a negative control ("no Stratiolaelaps") to see if/how much effect these mites have on Varroa. Maybe that's included, but no mention made it into the e-mail of the difference between treated and untreated.
    Apparently they were the control. See email below.
    Brian

    4:15 PM (46 minutes ago)

    to me
    Yes, but, they were chemically treated.
    What got this thing going was our Ss was an alternate "control" for their chemical treatment.
    I'm fairly certain that there were also untreated hives.

    Brian Spencer


    On 2013-02-21, at 11:11 AM, Bill Abell <abell.bill@gmail.com> wrote:

    > Brian,
    > Do you know if there were any negative control hives in the trials for comparison?
    > Bill
    >

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    Apparently, Stratiolaelaps scimitus is widley available and easy to buy. Beekeepers like to try new things, especially if it might safely reduce varroa numbers. If beekeepers knew the best methodology for introducing Stratiolaelaps into a hive, lots of people would begin experimenting, and it would quickly become clear whether Stratiolaelaps scimitus reduces varroa numbers.

    Anyone know how the experimenters reported above introduce Stratiolaelaps scimitus into a hive? Just sprinkle Ss onto the bees between the frames like dusting with powder suger? Place an open jar of Ss inside the hive and let the little predators crawl out? Pile a mound of soil seeded with Ss into the corner of the brood box? Other ways?
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 12 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    Quote Originally Posted by shinbone View Post
    Interesting!

    I wonder how the predatory mites are introduced into the hive . . . ?
    They come in a 1 liter canister and are shaken in.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    billabell - Perfect. Thanks.
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 12 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    There was an old lady who swallowed a fly...

    Australia has had a couple of spectacular failures with introducing predators.
    I'm going to let a couple of years experience build up before I decide.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    Quote Originally Posted by billabell View Post
    They come in a 1 liter canister and are shaken in.
    From what I have read they do in fact come in one liter containers, but it is not one full liter of these bugs. It is filled of peat moss like stuff for them to feed on. Each liter contains about 10k of these bugs. The above information counts them in ml. I suspect this is 150 or 259 ml of just the bugs. No filler. So what we would need to know is about how many bugs you approximately per 50 ml and how do you separate the bugs from the peat moss? Once we get that info it should be pretty easy to replicate.

    Another thing I read is that they inhabit the soil. I remember that some tbh guys were using wood chips and debris in the bottom of their hives. Is it maybe plausible that we should run a sump under the brood nest to allow them to sustain a population? I can only imagine how that would rot without some special treatment.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?

    I think they come packed in vermiculite from some suppliers as well. Funny, my brother and I were talking about another predator and doing this just last week, using pseudo scorpions.

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