Continuous release of oregano oil effectively and safely controls Varroa destructor infestations in honey bee colonies in a northern climate

Qodratollah Sabahi, Hanan Gashout, Paul G Kelly, Ernesto Guzman-Novoa
Experimental & Applied Acarology 2017, 72 (3): 263-275
The ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor is responsible for the death of millions of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies worldwide. Testing potential miticide compounds with different delivery methods that effectively control V. destructor and have low toxicity for honey bees is crucial to manage this parasite in hives. We determined the varroacide efficacy of three natural compounds delivered to hives with three application methods over a 4-week period. Oxalic acid in a sucrose solution was applied impregnated in cardboard (T1). A mixture of oregano and clove oils in an ethanol-gelatin solution was applied impregnated in absorbent pads (T2). Oregano oil alone was delivered using electric vaporizers (T3) to test the hypothesis that continuous release of miticides increases the varroacidal efficacy of essential oils. The varroa mite control rates for treatments T1-T3 were 76.5 ± 7.11, 57.8 ± 12.79 and 97.4 ± 0.68%, respectively, and there were no differences for bee mortality between control and treatments 1 and 3. Additionally, most mites were killed in the first 2 weeks in T3 colonies compared to the last 2 weeks in colonies of the other treatments. These results demonstrate the importance of continuously releasing natural miticides to achieve safe and high rates of mite control in hives. They also show that oregano oil may be an effective miticide against V. destructor infestations in colonies.

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