--- FORWARD ---
From: robert Dixon, INTERNET:firstname.lastname@example.org
To: Patricia Dines, 73652,1202
Date: Fri, Dec 6, 1996, 7:48 AM
Subject: varroa information and alternative controls
Dear Patricia Dines:
I have worked as an organic inspector doing honey inspections in
northern Alberta Canada. The varroa mite was just a rumor at that stage but
one beekeeper that had applied for certification moved his hives south to
overwinter them. The law required that he use Apistan ( fluvalinate is the
active ingredient) so I had to read up on this product. The information
from Agriculture Canada said that it was a synthetic pyrethroid and as such
it was extremely toxic to non target insects and also aquatic life. There
were warnings about how to dispose of the strips after it had been used.
The information from the governement also revealed that little study had
been done about how it breaks down in nature, what it breaks down into and
how persistent it is in the environment. It did not seem to me to be a very
organic product for the above listed reasons.
The varroa mite is a blood sucking parasite that originally came
from the east as far as I know. It gets into the brood cells where it
destroys the next generation and can spread very quickly within a hive.
Beekeepers are advised to check their hives using Apistan strips to see if
any show up before deciding to treat them. I have read that the African bee
seems to be more resistant to the varroa mite because of it's aggressive
grooming habit. An alterantive treatment for varroa is to use formic acid.
There are several problems with this more environmentally benign product
including possible damage to the queen bee and difficulty getting control
because it evaporates too quickly in the hive.
An interesting alterantive was mentioned in the recent issue of the
Rachel Carson council newsletter # 88. -" Beekeepers in Cumberland, MD have
been successfully reducing varroa mites in their colonies by using mixtures
of wintergreen and spearment oils. Bees appear not to be adversely affected
by the natural mint oils..."- The suggestion in the article is that bee
foraging areas be seeded with some plants of the mint family so the bees
can forage on them and take the bennefits back to the hive with them.
Menthol is currently used to control tracheal mites in bees.
FROM: Jose Villa
Apistan/fluvalinate is a pyrethroid (synthetic chemical with mode of action
and properties similar to the pyrethrins in chrysanthemum). It is
manufactured and marketed by Zoecon as plastic strips (about 1" x 8") with
a small dose of active ingredient on their surface. They are supposed to be
placed in hives during periods of no surplus honey production and removed
after 45 to 60 days. Many times these guidelines are overlooked and hence
the contamination of wax, possibly honey, and the rapid development of mites
resistant to the compound.
I work with the USDA-ARS in research with honey bees. There is a lot of
concern and discussion among researchers and beekeepers about the misuse
of miticides, development of resistance (is already documented in Europe),
and contamination of bee products. If you give me your mailing address, I
can send you some samples of what the discussions look like. Ultimately
everyone hopes to have European bees that have similar resistance mechanisms
to those of Asian honey bees. There is some progress in Europe and the U.S.
in this area, but until then beekeepers will have to use some natural or
artificial chemical to keep their colonies from dying.