oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa
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  1. #1
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    Default oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    I am going into my 3rd year keeping bees and I have been using Formic acid for my mite control treatments. Last year I used MAQS and this year I will be using the new Formic Pro because that is what they replaced MAQS with. It seems that more and more people are using OAV as their form of treatment rather than formic acid. Can anyone tell me if there is an advantage to using OAV over other forms of treatment like formic acid? Also I was using the powdered sugar roll method to check my mite load and I am questioning if that is as accurate as the alcohol wash. I hate to kill me bees with the alcohol but if I am not getting accurate measurements of my mite load am I not just letting the varroa kill my bees in the long run?
    Thanks
    Tom

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Mercer county pa. Usa
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    All treatments have good and bad. OAV only costs penny's a treatment, once you have a vaporizer. It is also highly effective when little brood is present, not so good when there is brood because the mites under the cappings are not harmed. It should also not be used with honey supers on. Formic costs more, but kills mites under the cappings and can be used with honey supers on, but has temperature restrictions. There just is not one perfect treatment. As for the sugar rolls, some people get accurate results, others not so much. Seems like technique and patience play a big role in accuracy. The alcohol wash is a little bit more idiot prove. You can check your sugar roll results by taking the bees after the super roll and give the same bees the alcohol wash and if you are able to wash off more mites then you have your answer.

  4. #3
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    Covington County, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    I will add to Vectorjet that MAQS (Formic) has been known to stress colonies and cause some queen attrition, especially in higher temps. As to the sugar roll, if you question your own testing results and cannot trust them as accurate, I would move to one I could.

  5. #4
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    Jan 2013
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    cleveland heights, ohio
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    I have maqs stiing in my basement because i was afraid to use them after hearing stories of queen loss.
    That said, I see it as my fear and not the product that are a problem.
    I have been using sticky boards to monitor mite levels.
    As far as treatment I have been using oav which does seem to work.
    Now i'm going to fess up (then go hide under the dinning room table )
    I started using oa fogging last year and it did work .
    10 of twelve hives were active the last warm day we had
    Just sayin

  6. #5
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    Jan 2016
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    Ozark, AL
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    Have been using OAV treatments for 3 years with no loss of bees from treatment or mite related problems, biggest draw back for me is the time involved treating each hive 4 times 5 to 7 days apart. I have the time and like to have healthy bees so for me it is the best/treatment of choice. Last week one of our club officers who is a Master Beekeeper and follows instruction to the letter spoke of his results using MAQS during January – February on this year. He carefully document all his treatments and the results, showed several pictures of the bees killed and of the ten hives he treated three had the queens die.
    As others have stated there may not be a single method of treatment that works for everyone but for me OAV is working great.

    Last month invested in a ProVap and cut time to treat hives from over 2 hours to less than 20 minutes.

  7. #6
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    Jun 2013
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    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    I use both, though mainly OAV. But sometimes in the summer I will use MAQS (have never used the new formulation) when there's a ton of brood, the need for treatment at that point and the right temps (my personal daytime max temp during the one-week treatment period is 82 F - which is far lower than the maximum on the product label, but easy to achieve even in August up here in northern NY)

    But a well-timed OAV, particularly that broodless, one shot dose in December sets the stage for such a low build-up from January to late August that most of the time I don't need to treat until September. And you can't get that from MAQS. Having invested in a Varrox wand, the OA to treat hundreds of times costs less than $10. Can't beat that.

    I have used MAQS, and never lost a queen, but as I mentioned I only use them in pretty cool temps.

    Although they are different chemicals, they are both in the same class of chemical (organic acids) so switching up from one to the other probably doesn't count as far as varying the treatments to avoid building any resistance.

    MAQS reportedly also treats tracheal mites, not that I think those are a big problem these days. But, still.

    As far as sugar rolls v alcohol washes. Alcohol is faster. Alcohol allows you to actually count your sample size (that has some merit, especially in academic tests.) People don't like to kill their bees, though, and that makes them not want to run tests as often as is useful.

    I learned sugar rolling directly from Meghan Milbrath, and we did exactly what was suggested above: after doing a sugar roll we did an alcohol wash on the same bees. No additional mites came off. There are clearly some "better" ways to do a sugar roll that get more consistent results. And Meghan's method, which I have dubbed Megan Milbrath's Michigan Method of Mite Monitoring can be seen here in its basic form: https://pollinators.msu.edu/resource...e-monitoring1/ I think her tweaks make it a little bit better, and I believe my own tweaks make it even easier (mine are bee-handling, equipment, and process tweaks, not fundamental differences in technique.) I now teach only the sugar roll, because that way I can expect students to actually do a roll on each colony once a month during the warm season. Doing alcohol washes only once or twice a season gives much less useful (even if some believe more accurate, though I don't agree) information. Because the most useless test is the one that isn't done, for whatever reason.

    The other thing to remember is that to neither of these tests gives you anything more than a surrogate value for the actual level of mites in your colonies. I often see people trying to translate that into some absolute value, and it just can't be done. You are monitoring to watch the ebb and flow of the mites, not trying to make an assessment of how many individual mites are in the hive at any one time. To do that you'd need to euthanize the colony and check out every dead bee.

    l also sticky board weekly (year round) and that gives me additional information about the mites' population changes.

    Nancy

  8. #7
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    Iím in Zone 8, going into my 4 th year, and I only keep a few hives in my backyard. Every winter I did OAV sometime in December - January and it always worked. For summer-fall, I am a fan of formic acid. In my first year, I used MAQS on my two colonies in mid September and early October, which can be considered quite late, but it worked and they survived. In my 2 nd year, I attempted to control varroa with repeated OAV during summer-fall in vain and ended up with one dead colony and two very weak colonies in spring. Iíll never do it again but it may work fine with your bees in your location. In my 3 rd year, I treated 2 colonies with MAQS in August, before mite# gets too high. It worked but one colony probably got re-infected and mite# bounced back by mid October, so I treated both with Apivar (which worked well). This year, Iím planning to use Formic pro, two half doses 10 days apart, starting early September (or earlier if mite# gets too high).

    These days I only look at 48hr natural mite drop (weekly during August - November, less frequently other times, and very often during treatment), to decide when to start/stop treatments. I once rolled my unmarked, dark queen in powdered sugar, so I will not do alcohol wash unless I really want to compare % infestation levels across many colonies of various sizes.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    I use OAV three treatments in August. On Sep 18, the state bee ladies sampled 8 hives of my bees and sent them off to U of Maryland for analysis. I just got it back today and in 532 sampled bees, they found TWO mites. I can live with that and I don't have the damage that formic indeed causes and hops causes. Apiguard is my second choice on strong colonies but Formic and hops just have no place in my plans.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    Wow Vance, that sounds Great!!! New to bees, and really would like to know more of your program details. Could you post on my page here. It richinbama, it will help me keep up with it better. I have problems getting info moved around on here. Thanks.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    I'm getting my bees in about a week or so, so I'm really trying to get a yrly schedule of any type treatment regimen that I need to do, so I can do my best with the new bees at the farm. Thanks Richard

  12. #11
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    I use OAV three treatments in August. On Sep 18, the state bee ladies sampled 8 hives of my bees and sent them off to U of Maryland for analysis. I just got it back today and in 532 sampled bees, they found TWO mites. I can live with that and I don't have the damage that formic indeed causes and hops causes. Apiguard is my second choice on strong colonies but Formic and hops just have no place in my plans.
    Hi Vance,
    I would like to know more too, what daytime temperature were you getting? I have always used formic but it can stay warm here into September and its almost too late to treat.
    thanks

  13. #12
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    Although they are different chemicals, they are both in the same class of chemical (organic acids) so switching up from one to the other probably doesn't count as far as varying the treatments to avoid building any resistance.
    That may or may not be true (no resistance has been observed in regard of OA over here in Europe over the last 20 years) - but it's important to recognise that Oxalic Acid and Formic Acid work in completely different ways.

    Immediately following vapourisation, Oxalic Acid dust is formed, the particles of which are too large to penetrate the permeable brood cappings, whereas Formic Acid produces a gas - which does. Hence Formic Acid is highly temperature dependent in it's mode of action as a miticide, and thus can prove too aggressive at higher temperatures.
    The 'trade-off' then is one of Oxalic Acid being (generally speaking) safer to use, but unlike Formic Acid vapour it will not make contact with mites protected behind a brood cell cap.
    LJ
    Last edited by little_john; 03-06-2018 at 03:26 AM.
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  14. #13
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    Feb 2016
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    Tombee, I am in a similar situation. I used a sugar roll because I didn't like the idea of killing extra bees during sampling, but the more I read the more it seems clear that an alcohol wash is considered to be more accurate. There are always bees dying throughout the season, so in a colony (tens of thousands of bees) an alcohol wash may be a small sacrifice to get more accuracy. I think sugar rolls can be done and give great info but I just feel an alcohol wash would be more accurate to me.

    I too used MAQS last year and it seemed to work well. In hindsight I should have followed up with closer mite counts during the fall after my MAQS treatment because I could have used another round of mite killing in the fall. This year I am prepared to use OAV and then if I need treatments during the summer when honey supers are on I plan to use Formic Pro as long as the temps are not too hot. I think that will be a nice 1-2 punch against mites.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    Quote Originally Posted by Richinbama View Post
    Wow Vance, that sounds Great!!! New to bees, and really would like to know more of your program details. Could you post on my page here. It richinbama, it will help me keep up with it better. I have problems getting info moved around on here. Thanks.
    My program is not difficult. Just test and if you find mites, kill them. I do sugar rolls. I have two wide mouth quart jars with #8 hardware cloth lids. I take a half cup of bees off combs with older larvae. That s where the mites congregate to jump in a cell and hide just before the larvae is capped. I look carefully to make sure the queen is not on the frame and shake the bees off into a tupperware dish pan, the one with rounded bottoms. I carefully scoop a half cup measure full of bees and put them in the jar and seal it. I dump a heaped tbsp of powdered sugar in the jar and spend a full minute rolling the jar to thoroughly coat and harass the bees. After the minute is up I set it in the shade of the hive and repeat the process. After finishing with them, I go to first jar and put a sandwich bag over the mouth. Then I invert the jar and spend anothr minute gently shaking and wiggling the jar to dislodge mites.

    Then I seal the baggie and number it. After finishing, I return to first baggie and put a couple tbsp of water in the bag. The sugar goes clear and the little chestnut colored beasts. I write the number on the bag

    You assume the scoop of mites is assumed to be 300 bees. If you find three mites that means your mite load is 1 percent. Six means 2 percent. If I find over that , I pull off supers and treat them with OA vapor. Three treatments five days apart. After treating all required, I put supers back on if appropriate. In early August, I treat all hives three times.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    FWIW formic can be even cheaper than oxalic if one purchases it and mixes their own. I do this and it is pennies when used with a "meat pad". Male varroa that are under the cappings are killed and I've found formic to be extremely effective with no measurable queen loss. This is just my own experience.
    I think alcohol wash is the way to go as far as testing. Don't be concerned about killing the bees because you are doing this to save the bee YARD..
    Personally I treat without testing because I feel that varroa are in all hives where varroa is able to survive.
    "Challenger" as in the Mopar muscle car. Not a personality description .
    Keeping bees to raise money for chordoma.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    Thanks for all the great information and advice guys! I think I will do the alcohol wash this year because I feel it will be a more accurate measurement of my mite load. I am also going to investigate more about OAV treatments so I can have both methods available in my arsenal as it sounds like they both have pros and cons.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    Most of the mite treatments available are very effective when used properly. That being said rotate through each of them. Don't use just one every time. Swap out every year, or every other treatment with a different style. If you use Formic in the spring, use OA in the fall.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    the state bee ladies sampled 8 hives of my bees and sent them off to U of Maryland for analysis. I just got it back today and in 532 sampled bees, they found TWO mites.
    My experience with the hives at my workplace has been very similar to your results Vance. But I used HopGuard2 on those hives and didn't have to remove honey supers from the hives during treatment.
    Last edited by Marcin; 03-08-2018 at 10:05 AM. Reason: clarifiction

  20. #19
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    During a hive inspection of one of my hives I found the drone larvae to have a high mite count. The hives here were building fast with lots of brood so I decided to try Formic Pro versus doing a round of OAV treatments. I was concerned about the potential to lose a queen, but decided to give it a try. The hive consisted of a three stack of 8-frame mediums. I placed 2 of the treatment pads between the bottom and second box and left it for 2 weeks. Removed it this weekend. The queen survived and had all phases of brood both above and below the pads. Only thing I noted different in this hive from my others were several queen cups being built. But, because I was "locked" out of the hive for 2 weeks at this time of year it is quite understandable.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: oxalic acid vaporizer vs formic acid treatment for varroa

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroZomBEE View Post
    Most of the mite treatments available are very effective when used properly. That being said rotate through each of them. Don't use just one every time. Swap out every year, or every other treatment with a different style. If you use Formic in the spring, use OA in the fall.
    Why? OAV works great, kills mites, does not harm your bees, takes a bit of your time but when did hobby beekeepers worry much about their time.

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