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Mite Treatment Cost Comparison Thread

2854 Views 10 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  SeaCucumber
The purpose of this thread is to carry out a cost comparison of the various mite treatments available.

The thread will assume 2 treatments per hive, and will assume the beekeeper has 10 hives. 2 deeps, full of bees.

Here we go:

1. OA Vaporization: No dead bees. Dose is not specific, quite flexible. Can be doubled with limited mortality. Can be performed any time of the year. Will not consider wand treatments, because of the labor and time making it unrealistic for 10+ hive beekeepers. That said, most good wands go for $100 or so, and are comparable in price to the Johno's Easy vap. The Easy Vap sells for approximately, $165 + a bag of OA $10. The "retail" vaporizers are Provap110 and retail for $500+ (not recommended for non wealthy beekeepers). For the provap, or a home made coil heating vap of similar nature, the total cost is as follows:

Roughly $17.5/hive for the first treatment, and then lowers the price to around $9 per hive for 2x treatment rounds. Treatments with easy vap/provap110 (and other such products) take about 30 seconds per hive, does not require opening of the hive. Just drill a hole. After the first year, the financial cost has a "half life" that eventually approaches zero, until the only cost of this treatment becomes the bag of oxalic acid. Having more hives makes this treatment exponentially more reasonable, price-wise. After 2 or so years, the price of OAV is basically the $10 bag of OA/ number of hives. So, around $1 per hive or so, per year (maybe less).

2. OA drip. Dead bees if performed too frequently, or in cold weather due to moisture. Dose is very specific. Can only perform once per brood cycle. Cost = $10 bag of OA and some syringes and sugar water. So basically, $1 per hive.

3. Formic Pro/MAQS: Dead bees, formic pro deadouts, etc etc etc. Can only be performed with the correct temperature. Approximately $7.50 per hive, per treatment. So approximately $15 per hive per year. The price never, ever goes down. It's always $7.50 per hive per treatment (please correct me if I'm wrong about this).

4. Apivar: No dead bees. $9-15 per hive, per treatment. Basically, $3 per strip, and a double deep needs 4 strips. Highly dense hives need 5 strips. That is, a minimum of 3 strips, and may be as many as 5 strips. Can basically be used any time of the year. So basically, $24 per hive per year for 2 treatments. Price never ever goes down, can be purchased in bulk, but it's still approximately $12/hive minimum per treatment.

5. Api life Var. No dead bees. Approximately $8 per hive per treatment, so $16 per hive per year approximately.

6. Hopguard 2. No dead bees. Specific time of year, and other restrictions I don't quite recall. Apparently it's $8 per treatment, so $16 per hive per year for 2 treatments.

Price from lowest to highest (2X full treatments 10 hives, 2 deeps full of bees):
1. OA drip (Can only be used once per brood cycle) (less than $1 per hive).
2. OAV (with Easy Vap), approx. $9 per hive/year.
3. MAQs/Formic pro. Approx. $15/hive/year
4. Api-life Var, and Hopguard. Approx. $16/hive/year
5. Apivar. Approx. $24/hive/year.

The cheapest treatment, without a doubt, is the OA drip. At under $1 per hive, it's the most cost effective mite treatment, period. IMO - one could very well simply use 1 of the more expensive treatments, and conclude the year with the "OA Drip" to save $$$$. IMO that's a highly recommended course of action.

The advantage with OAV is clearly after the 1st year, the cost of the treatment continues to drop, year after year, treatment after treatment, until it's only the cost of the bag of oxalic acid. All the other non-OA treatments always stay the same price.

Overall, in my opinion, the most cost effective while maintaining maximum effectiveness - ( and limiting formic pro deadouts, etc etc) is to treat with either Api-life Var OR APIVAR, followed by a fall treatment of OA drip.
Alternatively, the other option is to simply mix one of the more expensive treatments with with OAV over time. Or simply use exclusively OAV.

If anyone would like to make corrections, I have only personally used apivar, OAV, and OA drip.

Hope this helps.
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If you make your own vapouriser, then the cost of VOA treatment drops to a few cents per hive - so low that the cost doesn't even warrant thinking about. Time is a far more important factor than cost.

I apply VOA through the Crown Board (Inner Cover), which is a much slower technique than Johno's 'poke the vapouriser through a hole in the back' method, as it requires lifting-off the roof and feeder-shell each time - but I can still cover the whole apiary in less than 3 hours, and anyway I take the opportunity to top-up the feeders while the Crown Board is exposed - so do 2 jobs at the same time. Being retired means time isn't a major issue - but if it was, then I'd certainly adopt Johno's method.

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Dead outs and dead bees mentioned in your line about formic pro is kind of situational and seems like you injected your own emotions and bad experiences. I use formic pro with great results but the cost is accurate. If you figure in ease of application it kind of turns the list upside down.

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Dead outs and dead bees mentioned in your line about formic pro is kind of situational and seems like you injected your own emotions and bad experiences. I use formic pro with great results but the cost is accurate. If you figure in ease of application it kind of turns the list upside down.
As indicated in my post, I have not used formic acid. If you'd be willing to provide the forum more specific information, that would be helpful.

Also - could you please provide us with a cost for formic for 2 full deeps full of bees and provide feedback on dead bees/ efficacy?


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573 Posts
And again you totally omit thermal treatment which is a very practical and economical treatment IF you are treating a limited number of hives. Once the initial capital outlay for all of the equipment do thermal treatment, the cost is pretty much fixed with respect to additional cost. I am currently on my 3rd round of OAV treatment and nearing 500 treatments in total. It has taken 3rds of OAV treatment to get the hives in the good conditions they are currently in. With large numbers of hives thermal treatment becomes a very labor and time consuming process. Conducting 4 - 6 OAV treatments is not exactly labor and time saving but still MUCH faster with each round of treatments which allows the beekeeper to get to all of their hives in a timely manner in heading off a varroa mite explosion. It will take me just as long to treat all of my hives with OAV as it does to treat them with the Mighty Mite Killer. Due to medical issues I got far behind with my IPM and I had to do something FAST to at least stop the build up of mites. OAV was perfect for that. With each round of OAV treatment I have observed a notable improvement in each hive's population and gradually improving brood patterns. The brood patterns are still pretty rough looking but improving. This was also an opportunity to rotate varroa mite treatment from what I normally use. I think that should be done on a regular basis. Later in October or November depending upon weather and ambient temperatures, I will be treating with MAQS do to family matters requiring my presence. In the future, I plan to continue using a mix of OAV and the Mighty Mite Killer primarily concentrating the thermal treatment for at the very end of the season in October/November to kill off as many phoretic AND reproductive mites as is possible. In northern latitudes the temperatures are such that most hives go broodless which makes OAV perfect for mid Winter treatment on a warm day when the bees are moving out of cluster. In my area, I have hives that continually raise brood throughout most and sometimes ALL of the Winter. OAV would not be effective with respect to killing off reproductive mites in this case.

In my opinion it is a win/win situation. BOTH OAV and thermal treatment work very well. They both have roughly comparable expenses when you tally up ALL of the equipment and supplies needed. Again in my opinion, it is a matter of how many hives the beekeeper is managing and how much of the most valuable resource we have is available......TIME. When I begin to detect elevated levels of varroa mites in my hives. The hives that are the last to get treated may not be and should not have to wait a month or more for me to get to them with an effective treatment. Hence the value of OAV. With small/limited numbers of hives, thermal treatment kills not only phoretic but also reproductive mites as well which protects capped brood and no need to treat repeatedly every 4 - 7 days for 4 - 6 weeks. With well over 100 hives, the choice is clear for me. OAV to keep the mites at bay during the Spring and Summer. Thermal treatment with the Mighty Mite Killer in the late Fall. In colder climates, OAV all the way.

My comments are based upon 100's of treatments with BOTH the Mighty Mite Killer AND the ProVap 110. BOTH are excellent products. Use what works best for you in your circumstances if you want to employ chemical free or at least a "non-toxic" type treatment.

Larry Welle (ProVap 110) and Lynn Williams and stand behind both of these excellent varroa mite treatments. :thumbsup:

True! OAV is indeed a excellent treatment for broodless hives and to get an excellent knock down treatment against phoretic varroa mites. The rest of the story and the truth is that the vast majority (studies indicate in the 90% range) of varroa mites (reproductive varroa mites) reside in the capped brood of the brood nest comb. OAV does little to NOTHING to address this and inspite of OAV's excellent performance against phoretic varroa mites, the reproductive varroa mites are able to recover their numbers rapidly and endanger the survival of the hive especially if not properly treated in the Fall going into Winter. The Mighty Mite Killer DOES kill the reproductive varroa mites and totally disrupts the reproductive cycle of the varroa mite to achieve a MUCH more effective comprehensive varroa mite treatment.

Please DO enjoy "sitting on the creek bank in the shade drinking cold beer and tight lining for catfish with the rest of my 10 hours!!!" I'll gladly put in the extra hours and work to get my bees treated with thermal treatment. Next Spring when 40% - 60% of your bees are dead or in a very weak condition due to varroa mite infestation and virus's, I will be in my apiary splitting hives like a made man to stave off swarming and taking advantage of an early Spring nectar flow. Since I have begun using the Mighty Mite Killer as opposed to chemical treatments, not only have I saved a good bit of money on chemical treatments, I have doubled my numbers of hives each season. This season, I ran out of woodware to make all the full sized hives I wanted and had to used nucs until I get the new stuff wax dipped.

I have 2 ProVap 110's and they are an excellent quality mite treatment tool. I am not against OAV, on the contrary, I believe it is very wise to rotate and change up varroa mite treatment regardless of what type of mite one decides to use. That having been said, for my late Fall varroa mite treatment going into Winter, that last treatment of the season will be the Mighty Mite Killer. If for some reason I am not able to get this done, my 2nd choice is MAQS/Formic Pro. OAV being very good for what it was intended to do is NOT a good treatment to last the 5 - 6 months of late Fall/Winter/early Spring. You will likely have to retreat at least some hives during this time period and treating with OAV when the bees are in cluster is not particularly effective as compared to when the bees are out of cluster in temperatures warm enough to allow it.

Also, one should include the cost of a full face respirator equipped with organic acid rated filters ($350 - $400) (spare set of 3M P100 cartridge filters $20) (pair of welder's gloves $20) along with the cost of the ProVap 110, 10# of OA $28 plus and inverter $35.

So..........when including the FULL costs of operation of BOTH the MMK and OAV. A cheap Harbor Freight generator Tailgator 900 watt generator is about $125. The MMK cost $300. The beekeeper is ready to roll on mite treatment, $425 total cost. OAV ProVap 110 $485, 10# of OA $28, inverter $35, full face respirator $350, spare filters $20, welder's gloves $20. OAV total cost $938 call it an even $1,000 if you include the cost of a battery (not real big on prolonged running of gas equipment around my hives) The beekeeper is ready to roll.

Both of the above are excellent treatments when applied in their designed lanes of fire. The costs are NOT made up, they are what is basically required to safely conduct the treatment. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Even if you opt to go with a better inverter generator the cost is $167 vs the $125 for the el cheapo HB generator.

Factor into this that the MMK wreaks havoc on small hive beetles as well. I can't say whether OAV does or not but I have read NO evidence of this.

When you compare "Apple to Apples" with respect to OAV vs. MMK thermal treatment, it may give you cause to reconsider. How much are YOU spending on chemical treatments and over time, what are their results showing? The Mighty Mite Killer is NOT the magic bullet against varroa mites in beekeeping. It IS a very effective, chemical FREE, and alternative treatment for beekeepers to employ in their IPM program. Again, I will suggest, try might find you like it and achieves the goals you are working for.

On edit: I DID leave out the cost of electrical extension cords which would be required for both types of treatments. I would guess the costs would be the same for both.

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I do OAV with an immersion heater. They are <$9. Some come with an outlet plug. I made a bowl with aluminum foil. Treatments are bad, but they should help me get treatment free.
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