Cost of treating Varroa mites?
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  1. #1
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    Default Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    I am looking for studies on the cost of burden treating Varroa mites. I have not been able to find data on the cost burden to the industry of treating varroa. Has anyone seen research on this? I have some back of the envelope caulation but would like something more authoritative.

    Alex

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    And the cost of not treating?

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    i unfortunately can answer that question Michael Palmer after i missed treatments last year due to having spine surgery.
    HUUUUUGE losses over winter.
    This year have been on top of treatment and have 26 strong hives going into winter.\

    Alex Madsen my costs are a couple hundred/year for my hives.
    I use apivar, formic pro and OAV treatments.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    It´s more likely a philosophy cost future concerned. If bees should be able to survive on their own ethics must be to let them or, let a part of them be undisturbed.

    David Heaf claims the difference between treated stock losses and tf losses in the US is 9% which is very low. Still, fear of mites and losses is very present despite the possibility of soft bond.

    IME you can´t stop treatments on bees treated for years. You have to regress them, make them stronger in their defense, develop microorganisms.
    This needs years. You can treat less and less if you are really interested in a quest.

    You will have high losses the first two or three years, but you will have survivors if you are skilled with other managements, like multiplying, feeding and following the needs of bees.

    Treatments are a treadmill. They will always be a small part of the costs of beekeeping but a big part to make honeybees weaker and a danger to future resistance to pests and disease of honeybees.
    Decide yourself.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    This is a link to an article by of David Heaf I found that references the 9%. Unfortunately, the article does not address the original question. What is the cost burden per year, per hive for Varroa treatment?

    https://www.naturalbeekeepingtrust.o...ural-selection
    "In the USA, the Bee Informed Partnership publishes on the internet annual survey statistics on beekeeping practices and colony losses.¹⁴ Using data for all states/operations/years, treaters lost 33% of colonies, non-treaters 42%. In purely percentage terms it means there is only a 9% difference in the potential bee traffic,"

    PS both numbers of "treaters lost 33% of colonies, non-treaters 42%" is horrific. I suspect this is for migratory pollinating beekeepers that have much higher losses.
    PSS, The Pre-emptive killing of colonies is an interesting concept and should work over time. I suspect many TF beekeepers are not following that guideline.
    "Tom Seeley in his Darwinian beekeeping article⁴ supports not treating but cautions in bold type those who do not treat to do it carefully and diligently by killing, long before they can collapse, colonies whose mite populations are skyrocketing. His reasons are both biological and social. Horizontal transfer of mites from collapsing colonies to other colonies can in the long run select for mite virulence, and the influx of mites to not yet resistant colonies, including those of neighbours, can overwhelm them. But in my locality where no treatment is the norm and has no dire consequences, I know of no beekeeper who is doing these pre-emptive killings."

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    I treat primarily with OAV, using on average about seven individual doses per hive per year. I think I once calculated the chemical cost me about 2 or 3 cents per dose. Figure a quarter per year/per hive. About every third year or so I use MAQS, which costs about $5 per hive.


    60 hive years x .25 = $ 15.00
    25 applications of MAQS x $5 = 125.00
    Varrox wand 160.00
    First wand, now DOA 125.00
    Respirator 35.00
    Filters @ $18/pr x 6 108.00
    Lawn mower battery 60.00
    ___________

    Total expense for 6 years 628.00

    Average consumable cost/ yr @$29/yr
    Capital investment $380
    Not counting cost of charging the battery, which for me is free since all my power comes from solar.

    Consumbable cost is about $2.63 cents per hive, per year.

    Keeping my bees alive year, after year = priceless.

    Nancy

  8. #7

    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Madsen View Post
    This is a link to an article by of David Heaf I found that references the 9%. Unfortunately, the article does not address the original question. What is the cost burden per year, per hive for Varroa treatment?

    https://www.naturalbeekeepingtrust.o...ural-selection
    "In the USA, the Bee Informed Partnership publishes on the internet annual survey statistics on beekeeping practices and colony losses.¹⁴ Using data for all states/operations/years, treaters lost 33% of colonies, non-treaters 42%. In purely percentage terms it means there is only a 9% difference in the potential bee traffic,"

    PS both numbers of "treaters lost 33% of colonies, non-treaters 42%" is horrific. I suspect this is for migratory pollinating beekeepers that have much higher losses.
    PSS, The Pre-emptive killing of colonies is an interesting concept and should work over time. I suspect many TF beekeepers are not following that guideline.
    "Tom Seeley in his Darwinian beekeeping article⁴ supports not treating but cautions in bold type those who do not treat to do it carefully and diligently by killing, long before they can collapse, colonies whose mite populations are skyrocketing. His reasons are both biological and social. Horizontal transfer of mites from collapsing colonies to other colonies can in the long run select for mite virulence, and the influx of mites to not yet resistant colonies, including those of neighbours, can overwhelm them. But in my locality where no treatment is the norm and has no dire consequences, I know of no beekeeper who is doing these pre-emptive killings."
    You are right about the killings, most tf beekeepers await the crashes.
    IME in a setting which is not natural but a setting with high density of colonies and no isolation from treated colonies, no ferals around, the "live and let die" approach will not work in the long run if there is no eliminating of susceptible genetics.

    This shifting to more resistant genetics must be done all the time, never ending as long as treated hives are around.
    If you do this, the losses are acceptable 15-30%, as I see with a 6 year tf co-worker, who is an experienced beekeeper and breeds his own queens from the best colonies.

    The "killings" of weak genetics can be done by a soft bond approach to have acceptable losses, treating those colonies and shifting the queens.
    This means you have no costs for a chemical treatment, but high costs in labour.

    Here an interview my polish friend Bartek recently did with T. Seeley where they talk about this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NP93oHmmByw&t=13s

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    An estimate of cost should include labor. Its a busy time of year for beekeepers. Other things could be done if treating wasn't necessary. Opportunity cost. Then the cost in terms of bee health from chemical exposure.

    Then what is the long term cost of lack of selection. If you treat and do selection, there are those costs. If you treat, and ignore selection for mite resistance, then there are long term costs in terms of production because of stock failure. An area just beginning to be explored.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    Take a look at any beekeeping supplies catalogue - at all the toys and non-essential equipment which people buy - then look back at the cost of applying VOA (especially using a DIY applicator), where the cost is but a few pence per hive per year. Looked at that way, the cost is negligible and not even worth considering.

    Likewise the labour involved - do we cost our time when doing inspections, when cleaning equipment or maintaining woodenware ? Well, I don't - it's just all lumped together as part of the necessary day-to-day costs of running an apiary.

    I spend a lot more on paint, or petrol (gasoline) for the mower each year, than I do on mite control.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Madsen View Post
    I am looking for studies on the cost of burden treating Varroa mites. I have not been able to find data on the cost burden to the industry of treating varroa. Has anyone seen research on this? I have some back of the envelope caulation but would like something more authoritative.

    Alex
    It's all about the Economic threshold when the money lost for not effectively treating for varroa exceeds the cost
    of effectively treating.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_threshold

    Do yourself and every beekeeper in your vicinity a favor and effectively treat for varroa

  12. #11

    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    Quote Originally Posted by rbees View Post
    It's all about the Economic threshold when the money lost for not effectively treating for varroa exceeds the cost
    of effectively treating.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_threshold

    Do yourself and every beekeeper in your vicinity a favor and effectively treat for varroa
    “Using chemicals is caveman beekeeping.” (John Kefuss)
    Out of a Kefuss speaking:

    Kefuss 1.jpg Kefuss 2.jpg Kefuss 3.jpg

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    The majority of the commercials I know (UK) use Apivar as their routine treatment. When bought legally (i.e. Veterinary Medicines-approved, not imported without licence etc.) from UK suppliers this costs ~66% the price hobbyists pay for the same stuff. OA may also be dribbled midwinter.

    Therefore, the cost per hive of treatments appears to be equivalent to 1-2 pounds of bulk honey. I don't now the average yield of honey per hive but would expect treatment costs to be perhaps 2-4%. None of this takes into account cost of application etc.

    This is back of the envelope and clearly not authoritative ... though the prices quoted are correct.
    The Apiarist - beekeeping in Fife, Scotland

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    Mite Treatment Cost.jpg

    Above is a rough order of magnitude treatment cost calculation I just did. Are the assumptions reasonable?

    Alex
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    Somehow these calculations do not account for the success rate of those treatments AND cost of the replacement bees purchased AFTER the unsuccessful treatments.
    I will let the accountants and economists figure this one out.

    But, the proper calculations should factor in 1)cost of treatment of the entire apiary per surviving hives in spring and 2)an indexed cost of expense to replace the dead bees IF it happened.

    For example:
    - you spent $10 per 10 hives
    - in spring, you have 5 hives surviving
    - now your true cost is 10/5 = $2 per hive
    - you also buy 2 replacement packages to compensate the 5 dead hives - that is ALSO part of your treatment cost (if bought nothing - this part of formula is zero).
    (Your treatments did not turn out 100% effective - so you spent the time and money for nothing).

    In short - whatever you guys/gals are talking above makes a big and fat assumption - you have 100% survival of your bees all due to the treatments.
    You assume 100% effective treatments when you do your arithmetic, in other words.

    Finally, everything discussed here is a short-term context.
    Unfortunately for me, I am still planning to live for about 40 more years from today (and my kids are to live even longer).
    This inconvenient factor is to be factored in too (no idea how - up to the accountants).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    - that is ALSO part of your treatment cost
    not at all, this is how the waters get muddy , Greg is talking about the economic impact of Varroa to a backyard beekeper, not the OPs stated costs of treating for varroa to the industry (commercials) ... they sound the same at the start, but they are not.
    Your losses are not part of your treatment costs, as they would be higher if you didn't treat. So in fact treatments are not a cost so much as an investment. not just in overwinter survival, but in productivity. Hives don't just need to be alive come spring, they need to make grade

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    We're off topic from the OP's original question (and no, I don't know of a study), but Greg brings up a good point - if the cost of treating is more than the costs incurred to replace the additional losses (arguably, this costs should include the losses from lower productivity from recently replaced hives + labour of replacing hives), than treatment isn't really worth it from a financial standpoint.

    I like math, so I ran a few simulations using the numbers listed above across a range of apiary sizes. I modelled some variation in the loss rates mentioned in post #5, allowing for a 10% variance in the loss rates reported in that study (e.g. treated: 33% +/- 3.3%; TF: 42% +/- 4.2%). Hive losses were always rounded to the nearest integer (as you cannot loose half a hive), and apiaries sizes were modelled in increments of 5 hives (modelling 5 to 200 hives). Three price-points were modelled - OAV at $1.50/hive/year (based on the numbers in post #6 plus an estimate of labour), a $25 "generic" formic acid treatment (MAQS/apivar/etc) based on the number in post #13, and $14/year for a "mixed" treatment like many of us use (1 round of maqs/apivar + OAV). 10,000 random years were modelled. The output is the replacement cost (per hive) at which the cost of treatment across all your hives is the same as difference in the cost of replacement between treated and TF.

    In other words, the price on the graph is the maximum cost a single hive can cost you to replace before treatment costs more than simply replacing the additional losses incurred by maintaining your apiary treatment-free.

    At small numbers the replacement costs are not reliable; the numbers are out-of-wack because in many years the number of hives lost is not different between treated and TF apiaries. Thus, averaged over 10,000 apiary-years, treatment costs are spread out over fractions of a hive. At larger apiary sizes the costs level out; those "level" costs are more reflective of the real-world costs to smaller apiaries.

    Data 1.jpg

    Shaded areas are the variation (95th percentile) of the models. Long story short, OAV is so cheap that its worth the cost even with 5 (or even 1) hive. I worked out the number for a single hive apiary in this model - you can expect to loose 1 additional hive every 18.3 years in the model, but over that period you'll only spend $28 on OAV - I don't know of anyone who gets hives that cheap!

    MAQS/Apivar breaks even when your replacement costs are ~$275/hive, while a mixed approach breaks even at a replacement cost of ~$155/hive. I think to be fair, you need to incorporate the honey losses and additional labour into those replacement costs - those factors are not accounted for by my model.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    Interesting SuiGeneris ... presumably your model doesn't take account of the different survival rates of colonies treated once (end of summer) or twice (end of summer AND midwinter)? I've run my own models of mite numbers in the colony 'carried over' on colonies not treated midwinter with dribbled or OAV. Based on these mite numbers only (I'm not aware of other data that would help here, but happy to consider some) I'd expect those treated once would suffer about 25-33% higher colony losses.
    The Apiarist - beekeeping in Fife, Scotland

  19. #18

    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    It's never that easy. Some TF's are not hitting 40% plus losses. Some that treat are no where near 33%. We treat as warranted. Apivar, OAV and OAD. The extra costs?? 1.Splits to replace the lost colonies. Lost honey not only from the deadouts but lost honey from the colonies used to make the splits.
    On a 10 hives in the back yard I could see playing around with TF. With over 3000 out in the real world I can't. I cannot justify not doing everything I can to protect my livelihood. We ran 15.6% losses last year and felt that was way too high. Others thought it was great. If I went TF I'm the lucky kind that would hit the 40%. I would have to split the remaining hives to replace the losses. My income would drop by more than 40%.
    Its great on a small scale and easier. I know there are some big producers out there doing it. Unless I hit the lottery I can't afford to take a risk with my investment. Its not a hobby where if it fails it's no big deal. Show me how to do it with my current losses and I'm in. I'll pay you what I pay for meds for a few years. You pay me if it don't work. I guess the old thing of put your money where your mouth is. Nobody believes in TF enough to do that.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    Quote Originally Posted by SiWolKe View Post
    “Using chemicals is caveman beekeeping.” (John Kefuss)
    An absurd example of oxymoronic rhetoric, as cavemen had no concept of science, especially that of chemistry.

    It would be more accurate to say that non-treatment - that is, allowing Nature to 'take it's course' is more in keeping with the behaviour of primitive cavemen.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Cost of treating Varroa mites?

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    [...] treatments are not a cost so much as an investment. not just in overwinter survival, but in productivity.
    Very much agree. I think the OP's question is somewhat skewed - as what's required is not so much a 'cost-burden analysis' as a 'cost-benefit analysis'.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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