The Three most important words beekeepers should know
“Every honey bee colony in the continental United States and Canada either has Varroa mites today or will have them within several months.” – Honey Bee Health Coalition
This bold statement by the Honey Bee Health Coalition is the same advice Oregon Master Beekeeping mentors tell their students. In fact, at the first class session of the Oregon State Master Beekeeping Apprentice Program, the powerful opening statement students hear is, “If you learn nothing else from this class, it should be these three words: treat for mites”.
Varroa mites are a major problem for beekeepers. Many hobbyist beekeepers either deny that their bees have mites (because they cannot see them) or do not want to use a mite treatment, thinking it is unnatural. We hear this frequently. Unfortunately, in the winter and spring we also frequently hear from beekeepers who had a strong hive going into the fall but have no bees in the spring. There is a great article on the Bee Informed Partnership website that summarizes this issue that is well worth a read.
So now you know you need to treat for Varroa mites and your question is: which treatment is best? The short answer is: That depends. Lots of different factors will determine which mite treatment you choose. A great resource for the different mite treatments can be found on the Honey Bee Health Coalition Website.
This guide gives the most effective treatment to use during the corresponding time of year. Right now we are in the “Population Decrease” phase, so the recommended treatments are the two thymol based products, Api Life Var and Apiguard. Two other products, Mite Away Quick Strips or Apivar also prove successful this time of year.
We like to recommend the thymol products in the fall due to the higher temperature treatment range. Apiguard can be used from 60 to 105 degrees, which makes it a terrific treatment for the Pacific Northwest, which recently saw a summer high of 104 degrees!
The best time to treat in the fall is right after taking off the honey supers. Treatment can start any time from mid-July to the month of August. If you have not treated yet-- NOW IS THE TIME.
Bee a good neighbor! With bees drifting up to 3 or 4 miles, we need all beekeepers to treat for varroa mites. Let’s look out for each other and keep our bees healthy.