August 2012

Northwest Arkansas Beekeepers Club August 13,2012

President: Tom Nichols

Vice President Mark Eaton

Treasurer: Nancy Kahanak

Secretary: Victor Mathis

The August 2012 meeting of the North West Arkansas Beekeepers Club met at 7:00 p.m. at the Agricultural Extension office at the University of Arkansas.

SUBJECT FOR THE MEETING: Varroa Mites - Treatment Options

Teaching the Class Agenda is Neil Van Dalsem of the Oklahoma Beekeepers Association.

Attendance: At the start of the meeting 63 members were present. Present included were 3 visitors .

BEE FACTS: The Queen Bee in any hive NEVER leaves a hive EXCEPT during a swarm...she never suffers from "cabin Fever" and has no credit cards for shopping!!!!

As a prologue to the monthly presentation the club's president Tom Nichols opened the floor up to the members regarding the seasonal concern for mites and corollary how to watch for brood laying at hopefully the back end of the drought currently in. Several members voiced their experiences regarding efforts to winter hives and how their colonies are doing even in the drought.

Several members debated the use of excluders also as either an aid or a detriment in honey production. Additional comments and discussion were shared by club members regarding the use of pollen-traps as an aid for honey production.

VARROA MITES: Mites not only attack and kill individual bees but that also spread a virus which deforms the wing development of bees. Mites can be traced back the early 1960's in the present in the us. Mites lay their eggs in the bottom of a bees cell. The first mite egg laid is a MALE and all subsequent eggs are FEMALE and they mate INSIDE the colony in a hive. Fertile Mite Females can and do produce additional fertile females and their expansion is increased mathematically. At any given point a majority of the Varroa mites in a hive are inside a capped cell where it is hard to kill them.

SOLUTION: Mr. Van Dalsem projects that the ONLY solution to this problem is the "hygienic" capacity of a female fertile Queen to determine if a cell has a mite in it and NOT laying eggs in that cell. Some Queens can actually attack and "chew-up" and kill a mite.

Contributing Facts: Russian bees have some characteristics that discourage mites, but their "build-up" of both Honey and Brood cells.

There is some evidence that Africanized Bees DO overcome mites but their use brings with it many undesirable traits

Options for the Problem:

(1) Take your losses and let Natural Selection fix the problem. This solution has as of its use the waste of bees and resources.

(2) Screened Bottom Boards: Studies have shown that it is not a solution by itself. This proposed solution in large part where successful is determined by the individual genetic makeup.

(3) Powdered Sugar Dusting: The instructor noted that is the sugar contains Corn Starch it works better.

(4) Drone Comb Removal: insert 1 or 2 comb with drone cells...remove and freeze when capped every 30 days...repeat during spring and summer months. This appears to work well but requires a lot of work.

(5) Use SMALL CELL formation (4.9mm) or let bees make their own. Experience of some beekeepers according to their experience, is that it does NOT work.

(6) POISON: If it is poisonous IT WILL KILL mites.

    • The dose makes the poison

    • The regulatory Scientific Community has done a "lousy" job of Determining treatment methods, making good treatments available. The terms "soft" chemicals and "Hard" chemicals are greatly confused

CONCLUSION: Only use poison when needed (*Last resort)

SUGAR-ROLLS and STICKY BOARDS are good diagnostic methods to determine the presence or absence of mites.


    1. Oxalic Acid...may be the best method to use BUT it is not registered and probably illegal.

    2. Amitraz..Possibly the best synthetic treatment available...widely used "off-label"

    3. "P450s" a poison that may be more poisonous to the mite than the bee.

    4. Fluvalinate (AKA Apistan or Mavrik)...standing alone this is a fairly safe product although some formulations are harder on bees than on the mites. There are problems with this poison such as IT builds up in the comb...IT develops resistance to the product and IT has other drug interaction problems.

    5. Coumphos (AKA Check Mite) this is a very potent chemical poison...recommended for one ONLY inside a mite trap.

    6. Organic Acids: This is a powerful agent which does kill the mites BUT may also kill BROOD and is hard on the Queens at higher temperatures.

    7. HOPGUARD..a brand-new product created from Hops processing. Mr. Van Dalsem is unaware of how this product works.

    8. ESSENTIAL OILS: They are poisons also and do not kill mites INSIDE the cells.

CONCLUSION: Mr. Van Dalsem encourages CAUTION....extreme CAUTION and good sense when using POISONS and use them only at last resort. Use queens from Varroa resistant stock. Use Drone Comb Removal with screened bottom boards and use sugar dusting if you have time to work that system-----and IF treatment is NECESSARY use Thymocontroll as a preferred poison.

VARROA MITES continue to be a real problem for all bee keepers, and it will be a combination of physical non-poisoning procedures and careful ....VERY careful when using the LAST RESORT ---poison.

At the close of the presentation the floor was opened up by Tom Nichols for all members to share their experiences using mite control agents. The service of the USDA in Beltsville MD was identified as a free testing service for mite infested hives.

DID YOU KNOW: A "hangover" in our bodies from over-indulgence of alcohol is caused by the body's production of acetaldehyde (ethanal) in the body from the alcohol consumed. Taking honey provides the body with sodium, potassium, and fructose which aid recovery. Honey provides a rapid source of energy and the fructose accelerates alcohol oxidation in the liver, thereby acting as a sobering agent--who would have thought??