Evaluation of spring organic treatments against Varroa destructor (Acari: Varroidae) in honey bee Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae) colonies in eastern Canada

Pierre Giovenazzo, Pascal Dubreuil
Experimental & Applied Acarology 2011, 55 (1): 65-76
The objective of this study was to measure the efficacy of two organic acid treatments, formic acid (FA) and oxalic acid (OA) for the spring control of Varroa destructor (Anderson and Trueman) in honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies. Forty-eight varroa-infested colonies were randomly distributed amongst six experimental groups (n = 8 colonies per group): one control group (G1); two groups tested applications of different dosages of a 40 g OA/l sugar solution 1:1 trickled on bees (G2 and G3); three groups tested different applications of FA: 35 ml of 65% FA in an absorbent Dri-Loc(®) pad (G4); 35 ml of 65% FA poured directly on the hive bottom board (G5) and MiteAwayII™ (G6). The efficacy of treatments (varroa drop), colony development, honey yield and hive survival were monitored from May until September. Five honey bee queens died during this research, all of which were in the FA treated colonies (G4, G5 and G6). G6 colonies had significantly lower brood build-up during the beekeeping season. Brood populations at the end of summer were significantly higher in G2 colonies. Spring honey yield per colony was significantly lower in G6 and higher in G1. Summer honey flow was significantly lower in G6 and higher in G3 and G5. During the treatment period, there was an increase of mite drop in all the treated colonies. Varroa daily drop at the end of the beekeeping season (September) was significantly higher in G1 and significantly lower in G6. The average number of dead bees found in front of hives during treatment was significantly lower in G1, G2 and G3 versus G4, G5 and G6. Results suggest that varroa control is obtained from all spring treatment options. However, all groups treated with FA showed slower summer hive population build-up resulting in reduced honey flow and weaker hives at the end of summer. FA had an immediate toxic effect on bees that resulted in queen death in five colonies. The OA treatments that were tested have minimal toxic impacts on the honey bee colonies.

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