Bjorn Apiaries
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This page is intended to help

beekeepers with their Intergrated

Pest Management (IPM) decisions.


This page is not intended to show you how to treat your bees with a

specific product. Regardless of your method selected, always read

and follow the manufacturers instructions.


If you are reading this page in some attempt to find a one stop, silver

bullet apporoach to beekeeping in dealing with mites and other issues

of the hive, you can stop reading. Regardless of your equipment option,

comb slection, treatment used, or ideology, the most successful

approach to beekeeping is for a total concept approach to beekeeping. Equipment options, management stratgies, genetics, and your overall

IPM all should work hand in hand to give you the greatest chance of



If you think you can buy a magic queen, place you bees on a certain comb,

or use a particular hive, then you have already read too much from those selling you false hopes and dreams. There are plenty of fanatics out there selling books, and promoting their own ideology, and stroking their own

egos. And if you think buying a particular queen, or putting your bees in

a certain hive configuration will make all the problems associated with beekeeping go away, you will ultimately be very disappointed.


Please read the entire page.

This page has information

The World of Varroa Mites


Hard Chemicals:


Coumophos strips: These strips, in our opinion, are the worst form of

treatment a beekeeper can choose for their colonies. Research has

shown that queen viability, lifespan, and weight, could be impacted

from such use. Residue of these strips remain in the wax for years.


Fiuvalinate strips: Used by beekeepers for many years, with mites

becoming resistant to their use. Many beekeepers (especially

commercial operations) over the years have used the straight

pure form of fluvalinate by soaking cardboard and other materials

and treating their bees, increasing mite resistance.


Both fluvalinate and coumophos strips should NOT be used. There

are other effective treatment options that are far safer for your bees

and the enivironment. CCD research has shown that these treatment

options. when mixed with other chemicals the bees may introduce into

the hives, increases their lethal effect to your bees.


Note: We have left out the brand names that strips are marketed under.

Also the pure forms of these chemicals.

Soft Treatments:

Apiguard and Api-life products: Apiguard (A slow release gel) and

Apilife (a thin wafer) are both thymol products that many beekeepers

call a "soft" treatment option. Both are very effective, easy to use, and

are safe for your honey bees. While we at Bjorn apiaries do not use

treatments due to our breeding protocol, if we were to treat, these t

wo products would be what we would use. 

Sucrocide(TM) is a non toxic spray solution using natural oils applied

at 7-10 day intervals for up to three weeks. All bees must be sprayed,

treating all mites, making this treatment option very labor intensive.

An option for those with a few hives.



This page outlines the many

"Mechanical" Treatments

Powdered Sugar dusting: Many beekeepers trying to keep traditional

beekeeper applied chemicals out of the hive, use regularily applied

treatments of powdered sugar. The powdered sugar coats the bees triggering hygienic grooming which also dislodges mites. This same

"hyper-grooming" can be seen from other residue applied substances,

(like smoke residue from smoking bees upon inspections), which bees

want to clean away from their bodies. These type treatments are for

maintaining mite levels, and do not work if you wait till mites have

overloaded your colonies. They must be used weekly to be effective

as a mite treatment. This type mite IPM should also be used in

conjuction with screened bottom boards and/or sticky boards. etc.

Acid treatments:

Formic Acid & Oxalic Acid:  Both these products come with instructions

including personal health warnings for the beekeeper, using them below

a certain temperature, warnings of brood kill, and a period of time when

residue may taint honey supers. 

Our opinion:

We do not use them. There is a fine line between enough acid to kill

mites and yet not harm honey bees. We do ne believe that line actually

exists. When first approved for use, formic acid was used late in fall season

after fall honey was removed, brood rearing complete, and temperatures

were under the limit, as per the instructions. But treating for mites after

the fall brood has already been raised, and the mites have done their

damage in shortening the bees lifespan, made using this treatment questionable. Concerns over prematurely aging bees going into winter

was also raised. Many now suggest using this type treatment prior to

the fall brood, so young bees will not be affected by the acid. But that

position only deals with the worker bees, and forgets about possible

impacts on the queen. Reading all the warnings, possible damage to

brood, and other concerns over this treatment option, we do not promote

it's use.

While some have been concerned since these acid treatments have

come on the market, the ever changing instructions and spin-off products

such as "safer strips" clearly indicates that not everything was tested or

properly deemed safe when first introduced.


Equipment Options:

Screened Bottom Boards (SBB):

Used for many years, they are effective IF you have hygienic bees, including

those that are good groomers. The idea is simple. Bees for a host of

reasons groom themsleves. If they dislodge a mite and it falls onto a

solid bottom board, the varroa mite may latch on to the next bee coming

into the hive and carried back up into the brood chamber. If the mite falls

through a screned bottom and onto the ground, then the mte has no way

to get back into the hive.

Our Opinion:

We use them. Research has shown somewhere between

a 5 and 17% percent reduction in overall mite counts between hives with screened bottom boards and those that do not. Statistically speaking, researchers have dismissed the impact of SBB since a 5% difference

is not signifant enough. But we believe that a 5% or more reduction in

mites is well worth the efforts. Your mite IPM is made up of several

individual options, each feeding off each other. And if you are using

good grooming bees, and you can have 5% less mites from the use

of SBB, and this is combined with other reductions, then the overall

reduction in mite load can be large. We will take every 5 or 10% reduction

we can in our operation. It is not about buying into the idea that one

silver bullet can be found to deal with mites. But a comprhensive

approach, based on multiple factors, is the best approach.

The Right Genetics

1) All queens are not created equal.

2) There are no truly 100% mite resistant bees.

Some ask what does genetics have to do with mites? And the answer is

both simply and complex depending on the individual beekeeper. If you are

a beekeeper who will attempt to handle all the mite and other disease

issues in the hive by treating the bees, espcially all your hives, in a

prophylactic manner, then bee genetics in regards to mite control probably means verry little. Many large operations are more interested in honey

production, cost of cheap queens, and other factors. They do not worry

or involve themselves with genetis of one type bee over another. If there

are issues in the hives, they will deal with it in treating, many times on a scheduled timeframe.

For the beekeeper who does not want to put pesticide chemcials in the

hive, or beekeepers wanting to go in a more natural direction, then genetics

are very important. Starting off with the highest hygienic bee possible, allows

all your other IPM items to succeed on a higher level. As example, screened bottom boards are more effective when you use hygienic bees.

On a scale of one to ten in reagrds to mite resistant, no bee rates at a ten.

But the differences between a 4 and an 8, can have huge dividends. Every beekeeper should use the most hygienic bee line available, Local

acclimatized bees from queen breeders selecting for mite resistance

is the best option.

The natural cycle of Italians are vastly different from others lines like

Russians. Italians oftentimes do not shut doen in a summer dearth.

While russians oftentimes do. This impacts mite populations from

breaking the mite reproduction cycle, to allowing mite overload situations

when egg laying resumes. you should choose hygienic bees that are

adapted for your particular climate and seasonal changes.

Some have focused on "feral" bees. And over-bloated stories and hyped

"survivor" bees tales, taken from some farmers barn, are a dime a dozen.

If even half these claims were rtue, we would all have complete resistant

bees by now. And I challenge anyone to put their bees to the test after

making claims that they are completely mite resistant.

Fact is, most feral colonies are cast off swarms. Vast areas to support

the idea of long ago lost nee lines, uneffected by human influence, is

almost unherad of. 

Our advice to you, split your best genetic lines. Raise your own queens.

And if you need to buy queens or bees, do so from operations focused on hygienic lines, from local sources. And if you think you can buy a queen

based on marketing hype, and this will make you hives completely mite

resistant, you will be disappointed.