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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    FRASER VALLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA
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    1,347

    Default Thymol and drone sterility

    Does anybody know if thymol will cause the drones to become sterile and or less fertile? I am planning to start treating for varroa soon with a thymol based product but we are still in the thick of things as far as queen rearing goes. I have done this in the past and did not really notice any effects but this is something that is not very tangible. I know that coumaphos caused drone strerilty but what about thymol?

    Thanks

    Jean-Marc

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
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    966

    Default Re: Thymol and drone sterility

    For mite treatments, my best luck was with formic acid strips. Zero surviving mites, but it was awfully hard on the queens. I plan to try a "pinch-hitter" - a QMP (queen mandibular product) swarm lure while caging and removing the queen during the formic acid treatment. I'm hoping that the swarm lure will keep the workers from knowing that they are queenless for 3 days while the strips are in for the first 2 days. The hives should air out at least a day, then I plan to re-introduce the queen to her own hive with a wire push-in cage.

    I don't like coumaphos treatment getting into the bees wax.

    Thymol is a natural product of thyme, but I don't know about its effect on bees. I have heard it repels both varroa destructor and acarapis woodsii mites quite well. t is not considered a harsh treatment for mites, and is a medium-low level treatment in Integrated Pest Management systems.

    I will look for the research that says coumaphos causes sterility in drones and see if other chemicals like thymol were tested, and ask around the research community.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,316

    Default Re: Thymol and drone sterility

    >Does anybody know if thymol will cause the drones to become sterile and or less fertile?

    Perhaps someone has said that, but I have never heard of anyone purporting that. Neither because of a scientific study nor because of simple observation. It has other issues. It is lipophilic. It is a broad spectrum antimicrobial and will disrupt the microbes. The bees hate the smell of it. It smells like Listerine (or part of the smell of Listerine).
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Ojai, California
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    966

    Default Re: Thymol and drone sterility

    Michael, do you still use thymol? I have not needed it yet. Any other drawbacks?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,316

    Default Re: Thymol and drone sterility

    I have never used thymol. The biggest drawbacks would be:

    1) it disrupts the microbes (it's a broad spectrum antimicrobial) which will interfere with the natural balance of the hive as well as the fermentation of bee bread

    2) it builds up in the wax which means it will make your hive and your honey smell like thymol.

    3) it runs the bees out of the hive... I see that as an issue... I guess some people don't.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Ka'u Hawaii
    Posts
    169

    Default Re: Thymol and drone sterility

    I had an experience of producing a bunch of beautiful drone laying queens in April, 2012. It was either sterile drones caused by apiguard, a lot of wind, or (the one I don't believe) the queens all flew out of the range of my drones. This last one is based on the idea that the queens fly out of the local drone area to mate.
    Definitely, apiguard was a possible cause as in many years of queen rearing, mostly for myself, I only had this result once. This occurred shortly after I had treated with apiguard while the drones were being reared. But, I repeat, it was also a windy period.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
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    966

    Default Re: Thymol and drone sterility

    Thank you, Michael. It seems like thymol is a desperation measure for acarapis woodsii infestation only. I have not had that joy yet (knocking on wood).

    Gino45 - how far are your drone flooding hives set from your queen mating nucs? Also what was the wind velocity, and did it blow the entire mating period? (From the look of the photos in Wikipedia, the Ka'u district can really get blasted by the winds!) You have an interesting question...and the Apiguard is a suspect.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Ka'u Hawaii
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    169

    Default Re: Thymol and drone sterility

    Charlie, nucs were in the same yard as the drones---5 frame westerns.
    I know it was windy muich of the time, maybe 30 mile an hour winds. If it is true that queens fly only in the afternoon, well that is when it is windy. You'd think they might do it in the morning since the temperature is almost always in the 70's by 8 am.
    Of course, I'm not one who has all the answers, rather I often come up with questions. In fact I put the cells out, went on vacation, and when I came back 3 weeks later I had these drone layers.
    So, who knows? I can't for a fact say that apiguard caused it when wind is a possible factor. It was also shortly after we had the initial death of all the wild hives and untreated hives due to the recent arrival of both mites and shb. So the bee population including my hives was far lower than it had ever been before; however, my yard had lots of drones.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,442

    Default Re: Thymol and drone sterility

    We give a thymol treatment each late summer/ early fall. Yes, perhaps it disrupts some of the natural hive processes for a short period of time but it disrupts varroa a whole heck of a lot more and its pretty clear what they can do to a hive. It also should be noted that no one suggests it damages any of the stored pollen. Those same treated hives begin brooding like gangbusters very early in the spring down south after a winter with little or no natural pollen available. I do choose not to use it in the spring partly for fear of disrupting any reproductive process but mostly because I have found it unnecessary.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  10. #10

    Default Re: Thymol and drone sterility

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    It is lipophilic. It is a broad spectrum antimicrobial and will disrupt the microbes. The bees hate the smell of it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    I have never used thymol.
    Obviously.

    No effects on mating success in my bee yards. Drones born in Spring won't be affected from a summer treatment, I guess. What I like about thymol is, it is relatively soft to the bees and it is a long term treatment. Api Life Var for five weeks knocks down any incoming mites during that time. That ensures healthy winterbees.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Campbell River, BC, CA
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    530

    Default Re: Thymol and drone sterility

    I can't comment on drone sterility, our hives are kicking them out for winter when we put it in. First winter we had 3 out of 3 survive. Second winter we got 6 for 6, one was 2 high nuc. We do two strips at two week spacing, 2 rounds. We see the bees hauling the old strips out in the spring.

    I was convinced in the first year, got only one mite in a 24 hour sticky board check. Another sticky test a day after putting the strips in, I lost count north of a thousand.

    We have 10 hives going into this winter, and they will all get strips in a couple weeks. We are behind schedule because we are moving, and the hives are 200 km away, won't be coming to the new home for a couple weeks yet.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
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    966

    Default Re: Thymol and drone sterility

    Gino45 - my guess is that your queens likely did not mate with your drones. I separate my drones by about 3/4 mile from the mating nucs (my mating boxes are 10-frame Lang's with 2 hive partitions, making a 3 x 3-frame arrangement). My other guess is that your queens never even got out to mate - 30 mph is just past the limit I've seen any bees out, let alone drones. It is very questionable if even they mated at all. It would be interesting to dissect one and look at her spermatheca to see if it is clear or mated. Mated looks like a slightly pinkish creamy color, opaque, not clear.

    Jim Lyon, Bernard, & Grozzie2 - Thanks for all your inputs. I see it is only to be used VERY strategically, perhaps when the brood cycle is broken. I'll check with Randy Oliver and see what he says about the various treatments. I definitely lean toward IPM over "treatment free", while trying to breed bees that need less and less treatment. I will be running a few TBH colonies without treatments, just to give lots of choices and chances for survivors.

  13. #13
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Thymol and drone sterility

    I used Apiguard (thymol) for the first ever time last fall, and was very pleased with the results. The bees got 50 mls paste, then another 50 mls 2 weeks later, so all up around a 4 week treatment period.

    Going through the hives next spring the bees were fine with low mite levels, clearly the treatment worked well.

    But - it is hard on the bees during treatment and I learned a few lessons about what not to do next time. What happens is the bees hate the smell and if the hive is weak they can be driven from part of the hive, also had some hives robbed cos the bees were too disrupted to guard the entrance properly. Also had some brood killed, plus most of the hives the queen stopped laying for a week or two.

    In view of all this, personally I would not use the product during any queen raising activities, not because it hurts drones it probably doesn't, but just because it disrupts things generally and there will likely be a cost in terms of numbers of queens produced.

    Like Jim I wouldn't use it spring as that's when you need the bees building up uninterrupted, but for my system anyway, it's a good fall treatment some disruption then doesn't matter long as the hive survives.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  14. #14

    Default Re: Thymol and drone sterility

    Never had this kind of problem. Thymol can cause robbing for some reason, not sure why. It has a strong smell, and your whole apiary will smelll like it after you apply your treatment. It surely knocks of the mites. And I feel it causes a strong hygienic reaction by the bees. Not sure why. But all my hives look good after thymol. Not sure why.
    I have seen how they react when they touch it. Same as me, I guess. It burns them. If you put some thymol on your hands and scratch your face, or some other part of your body you will know what I mean.
    "Do nothing. Time is too precious to waste." Buddha

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
    Posts
    831

    Default Re: Thymol and drone sterility

    I use thymol strips now for several years instead of paste. With paste, it's to uncontrolled and takes too long to apply. If the paste is in an aluminum container there is also a spacer necessary. With strips, all you need is a scissor to cut one in half. I treat 1 deep with a full strip and 2 deep with 1 and a half strip. After 14 days I put the same amount in again, nothing to remove and the work is done in seconds.
    It's now hard to find any mites, as long as there is no lazy beekeeper in you neighbourhood.
    There is no problems with thymol contamination, it is not enough to even taste it. Here is pure thyme honey available, I got a jar from Greek and it taste different but not bad.
    Years back I had sterile drones, when I used Pericine (chumafos liquid) but since I have new combs and thymol, not any more.

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