New Controls for Varroa destructor

Thursday 29 October 2020

Varroa mites are considered the number one threat to honey bees around the world.  These harmful creatures not only weaken colonies by drawing the fat body tissue from the bees, they are also vectors for viral diseases.  As beekeepers, we must be vigilant in our control of these ectoparasites of our livestock.  The only long-term approach to Varroa destructor control is Integrated Pest Management.  We have talked about this in previous blogs but this week we will continue to discuss alternative ways to control Varroa mites.  If we rely on a single treatment, it will be overused leading to resistance.  For this reason, we must cautiously embrace new and different treatment methods.

New Controls for Varroa destructor

Api Life Var®

Api Life VAR® has just been approved by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency for use in our country.  Api Life VAR® is manufactured by an Italian company, Chemicals Laif Spa, with a Canadian contact, the Manitoba Cooperative Honey Producers Ltd. (BeeMaid).  The main active ingredient in this newly available Varroa mite treatment is the essential oil thymol.  The treatment also contains Racemic camphor, eucalyptus oil and l – menthol.  The treatment can be applied during spring, summer or fall.  It is not recommended for use when collecting honey and a 30 day withdraw time required prior to placing honey supers.

The treatment involves three applications of 7 – 12 days resulting in a period of up to 62 days from commencement to the placement of honey supers.  The vapour-based treatment works optimally above 18°C and below 35°C.  The length of time for the treatment, especially prior to the placement of honey supers, combined with the effective temperature range will have implications for use in our region.  The efficacy has been reported to be very similar to other thymol based treatments but yet to be validated in our region.

Api Var Life: showing wafers place on top bars of hive. Source: Veto-pharma

Api Life VAR’s® active ingredient, thymol was discussed in detail in last week’s blog but the additional ingredients found in Api Life VAR may be new to beekeepers.  Racemic camphor is an organic chemical from a group of aromatic compounds call terpenoids.  These have long been thought to have insect pest deterring properties but the evidence of this as an effective acaricide, on its own, is lacking.  There is some evidence that eucalyptus oil, an essential oil, similar to thymol, derived from the Eucalyptus tree, is an effective pesticide.  The final ingredient of l – menthol is the principle component of peppermint oil.

This new product will not be available to beekeepers until spring of 2021.  If you want to try Api Life VAR® then contact your local bee supply store to find out the details of price and availability.  Api Life VAR ® is recommended by the manufacturer to be used as part of an IPM program.

HopGuard II®

Another new product was approved last year for the treatment of Varroa mites.  In October 2019, Health Canada’s PMRA granted registration for sale as a Varroa mite control, HopGuard II® and its active ingredient hop beta acids.  This treatment is another organic compound in the same category as formic and oxalic acid.  HopGuard II® is a relatively simple treatment consisting of one application, by strip, placed in the hive for the manufacturers recommended active period of 5 to 7 days.


Applying HopGuard II®.  Source: Beta Tec hop products.

The efficacy in our regions is unknown but the manufacturer states that HopGuard II® is generally 50 – 70% effective.  Reports out of Saskatchewan, by the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Extension, state a 97% efficacy using two consecutive treatments.  If using consecutive treatments, the manufacturer recommends these be five to seven days apart.  HopGuard II® is also safe to use during honey flow.

With a range of options available to beekeepers for the management of Varroa mites in our honey bee colonies, choices become difficult. The soft chemical options have the advantage that there is no expected development of  resistance by the mites. These treatments present other challenges, in that their efficacy is more variable due to temperature and other factors, and they also require, in some cases, additional knowledge and skill. The repeated application of Apivar (amitraz) will inevitably lead to resistance! This is why an alternating regime of treatments is recommended as a fundamental part of an IPM program. For this reason, skilled and progressive beekeepers are using one or more of the soft chemical treatment as a regular alternative to Apivar.

Nova Scotia beekeepers read on... 

If your farm is changing the way it interacts with its customers or Covid 19 has altered the way you market your products, there is help to develop direct marketing eCommerce resources.  Some information below on how to find out more!

Perennia's Accelerated Direct Sales Program is a convenient and straightforward approach for businesses to create an online product listing or an e-Commerce website. If you are not familiar with this program, it is available to Nova Scotia farms, aquaculture operations and food and beverage businesses through a partnership with Local Line. Eligible businesses will receive the first six months of this online direct sales platform free through this program!

Perennia are also hosting another webinar with the Local Line team on November 5th at 1 PM. Registration for this session is available here .  All are welcome to come along and find out more!

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