In my previous two blogs (here and here) I addressed the concern that Varroa mites bring to beekeepers. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again (from experience) – choosing to not manage the Varroa mites in your hives will lead to a dead hive. It might take a couple years, or it might take just one, but it is inevitable. After my previous blogs, which addressed counting the mites and knowing how many is too many, the question becomes, what do I do about it? What treatment options are there?
There’s a lot of treatment options. Check out the this article from honeybeehealthcoalition.org, particularly page 10-19. It is written by Dr. Dewey Caron, pictured above. It outlines the various treatment options, their efficacy, and general advantages/disadvantages. I have successfully utilized several of these options during my beekeeping adventures. I generally use oxalic acid during late winter (February) and Apiguard (thymol) in late summer (August). However, I am considering using Apivar in the future to rotate my treatments. Using the same treatment option multiple times a year can increase the chance of the bees building a resistance.
You will notice in the article link I shared above that Varroa mite treatment options are broken into three categories – synthetic, essential oil, and acids. Many new beekeepers I meet want to manage their hives with an “all natural” or “organic” method, which makes them afraid to treat, especially with the synthetic options. Further, many approach beekeeping in a very hands-off method, not checking for mites or determining the health of the hive.
Dr. Dewey Caron shared an interesting thought with me recently during a National Honey Bee Day presentation at Boise State – you wouldn’t sit back with a sick child and not give them medicine. You wouldn’t let your dogs, cats, or other pets survive on their own. A farmer wouldn’t neglect a herd of sick or starving cattle. Then why should we treat our bees this way? They need care, support, and assistance when needed just like any other thing we care for. A beekeeper who sits back and chooses to not treat a hive with Varroa mites is not a beekeeper, but a bee-haver. Food for thought, y’all. Be a beekeeper.
Keep your bees buzzin’ y’all!