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Aggression after mite treatment

5584 Views 30 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  JWPalmer
A week ago I treated my hive with Mite Away Quick Strips. We followed the product directions.

Today (after the 7 day treatment period) we inspected the hive and removed the strips. The bees were very aggressive. A lot of brood had hatched during the week of treatment but we didn't see any eggs or larvae and the vacated cells were getting filled with nectar and bee bread (lots of resources). They have lots of room in a second brood box but are mostly filling it with food resources.

Does/can the formic acid treatment interrupt the normal queen activities? I know it can cause some brood loss, which we haven't seen, but I didn't expect to see a lack of eggs and larvae.

The bees were so aggressive that we didn't inspect every frame but we did not see swarm cells or supersedure cells on the frames we inspected. There were a few normal dry queen cups. We didn't see the queen but didn't look very long because the bees were so mad.

Should this be expected from the MAQS?
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Based on my interpetation of your observations, the MAQS treatment killed your queen. This is a relatively common occurance and the primary reason I do not use, nor recommend, formic acid treatments. What have your daytime high temperatures been like? I see thet Redding is supposed to be over 100° in the middle of next week. Formic should not be used if the temps might exceed 85°F. Check back in the hive in a day or two and make a concerted effort to find eggs. If you do not find any, either give them a frame of eggs from another hive, or consider purchasing another queen. Sorry that this is happening.
JW, thanks for the reply. I was worried that someone would tell me the queen was dead. Shoot!

As for temps... we chose that time period because we had a good temperature window, within the range in the instructions. We don't have a second colony (that's going to change) so if we don't find a queen or eggs soon we will be trying to locate a new queen.
It is just a strong possibility, not a certainty. Now that the pads are out, a couple of days will tell the story. Since I do not use this product, I am not that familiar with some of the more subtle problems, like a potentially induced brood break. Please post back what you find.
They do disclose that queen loss is a possibility as well as a disruption of egg laying. So you may have a queen that stopped laying and has not resumed yet. Don't buy a queen until you are sure they have not made any QC. Supercedure also can occur as a result of the treatment.
MAQS in my opinion is a defective product. I do NOT recommend it and in fact recommend against it for the reasons stated above. Treating a hive using 2 MAQS strips at any temperature I have found will at the very least severely upset normal activity inside the hive to include immediate stoppage of the queen laying and very likely a high mortality rate for all of the bees, brood, and in more than a few cases the queen. It will severely hamper foraging and honey production if used during a nectar flow.

The above having been said, IF the temperatures are below 80 degrees & predominantly in the 70's (daytime high) and you understand the risk you are taking........treating with MAQS using the SINGLE strip method using the (what NOD has now changed to due to high losses) 21 day treatment installing a SINGLE strip for 14 days followed by a 2nd strip for 7 days.

My strong suspicion is that MAQS are NOT being properly stored by bee supply distributors as well as bee supply distributors selling almost ready to expire MAQS at discounted prices (you know who you are :rolleyes: ). MAQS are required to be stored below 25°C (77°F) and out of direct sunlight. I have serious doubts distributors are doing this. Elevated temperatures increase the rate at which the formic acid breaks down the paper liners of the MAQS which are designed to moderate and meter out the formic acid dosage over time.

Pick your poison, when no brood is present OAV is an excellent treatment. Apivar is another great treatment for holding mites at minimum levels. Neither of these treatments kill reproductive mites in the comb under capped cells. Only Formic acid and thermal treatment does that. Thermal treatment is VERY effective however there is research evidence that elevated temperatures can adversely impact sperm viability in the queen.
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FiveJ and Live Oak, thanks for the information and opinions. Time will tell what happened with my colony. I was aware of the precautions but felt if I strictly followed the instructions that everything would be fine. And everything may still be fine when I get back in a take another look.
It’s not uncommon for a Queen to take an egg laying pause during/shortly after treating with MAQS.

It’s not uncommon for a Queen to carry on with normal egg laying activity during/after treating with MAQS.
I use Formic and OAV. Formic comes with its risks,but the benefits to me in my IPM plan are worth it. I have found it to be very effective and the ability to use it while supers are on is critical because we get a good late summer and fall flow. Of course, this is when they are making winter bees. Having a cycle or two of healthy bees going into winter is critical in my climate.
I do believe I lost a queen during treatment. The bee/ brood loss has been minimal. I agree with Live Oak and it can be a challenge getting a window of low temps for treatment. I store my strips in the freezer and put them on frozen. If it is going to be on the hot end of the scale, I add an empty super. On smaller hives, I do the half treatment. This year, I may pull the queen for the first three days,especially if I really like her. 😁 J
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Hey Kelly,

I actually keep bees in Redding as well. It can be tough to use Formic Acid here due to the heat we get all summer. I have used it in the fall several times when there's a bit of a "cold" spell. Otherwise, I am relying almost exclusively on Oxalic Acid vaporization a few times a year.
Hi ErMurazor,

Nice to meet you.
Yes, the heat will be a challenge for sure. I started the MAQS treatment on June 6 when we had a week of pleasant days. It was a good treatment window.

Have you ever tried Apiguard in our summer heat?
...I store my strips in the freezer and put them on frozen. If it is going to be on the hot end of the scale, I add an empty super. On smaller hives, I do the half treatment...
I store mine in the freezer as well, as does my supplier, and put them on frozen too. I keep them in a cooler going out to the yard, so that they do not thaw too quickly (before I finish all of the hives). And I *always* make sure there is an extra box on, regardless of temp. I also make sure to place the strips closer to the edges of the box than the center. I have been doing this since 2011 and have never experienced losses doing it in this manner.

Due to my location it is usually possible to get a good window most of the time, as high temps generally don't occur frequently or last for long periods.
Hey Kelly,

I have never tried Apiguard before so I can't speak to it too much. Oxalic Acid is where I've gone most of the time. I know most the big places use Apivar.
I my limited experience, the only time my bees have become testy was when they were queen-less. Like for a few days after a swarm, before the new queens emerged. Normal behavior.

It is also possible that the MAQ's would cover up the queens pheromones for a while, so even if she is there and not laying, the bees might think they are queen-less.

Giving MAQ's a try right now. Darn window of decent temperatures has been changed. Expecting 90 on Thursday. Typical Michigan weather. So I will pull the strips Thursday morning and cut the treatment down to 5 full days. Might be an interesting day and will find out if the bees have turned into rottweilers.

Appreciate the tip keeping the med's in the freezer.
Trin, I hope you find everything normal and happy. If I had just opened the box and taken out the strips and closed it back up I don't know that I would have noticed unusual aggression. However, I wanted to look for eggs and larvae and brood pattern. That is when the rage problem started. Please let us know what you find.

I appreciate everyone's comments and suggestions.
Appreciate the tip keeping the med's in the freezer.
Yeah, keeping them in the freezer significantly extends the shelf-life. As long as they haven't turned yellow, they're good. I've kept them for over a year, some might be approaching two years now. I buy larger quantities for a volume discount.
Bad Bee- When you say extra box do you mean just a med box with no frames or just the med honey super above a two deep box set up? Just wondering.
if you had just been poisoned and still alive to tell about it, you would proly be aggressive too.
Thomas Seeley suggests that to rid one's hive of mites, don't treat, but wait three years. The bees that are remaining will know how to rid the hive of mites. My interpretation of a radio interview. Read his book?
Thomas Seeley suggests that to rid one's hive of mites, don't treat, but wait three years. The bees that are remaining will know how to rid the hive of mites.
Remaining bees?
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