Varroa Control in Australia.

There are some key points to consider when planning varroa control in Australia.

  1. Many beekeepers in Australia can collect honey all year round. When can they use a synthetic miticide that needs a minimum of 8 weeks for a thorough treatment? Plus the 2 weeks withholding period for Apivar?
  2. Many honey importers around the world require the honey to be checked for Amitraz residues.
  3. Australian honey consumers could potentially boycott locally produced honey if they knew that beekeepers were producing this honey while the miticide drugs were present in the hives.
  4. It appears that the varroa mites in Australia are not spreading viruses, or very little. That means that the detrimental effects of the mite to the honeybee colony is substantially less.
  5. In NZ, it is the viruses that are spread when there are high mite populations in a hive that causes the bees to die and the hive to collapse.
  6. Oxalic Acid is an excellent safe product for beekeepers to use to kill the varroa mites.
  7. It’s a natural part of the environment, so we’re not poisoning anything but the mites.
  8. Since it is not lipid (fat) soluble, it will not build up in the wax of the combs.
  9. It is a natural component of honey, and treatment with oxalic acid does not appreciably increase the concentration of it in honey (Brødsgaard, 1998).
  10. Maximum Residue Levels. (MRL) There are no MRLs of Oxalic Acid imposed on honey in New Zealand or USA.
  11. Out of all the products used for varroa control, we believe that Oxalic Acid is the least harmful for humans to handle and the product that is the most naturally acceptable to the bees.
  12. Glycerol is a natural constituent in honey.

 

Hundreds of beekeepers in NZ use Oxalic Acid Extended-release strips (OAE) in their beehives as a very important part of their varroa control program.

The Beequip cardboard strips are soaked in a solution of Oxalic Acid and Glycerine and placed on the brood frames in an upside-down U shape.

In NZ, the OAE strips are replaced every 6 to 8 weeks depending on the time of year and the varroa mite pressure.

In Australia, in many areas the strips will only need to be replaced every 8 to 12 weeks for successful varroa mite control, due to the lack of viruses being spread by the varroa mites. But, if you are in an area where there are a lot of feral colonies collapsing due to varroa mite invasions, you may need to replace strips every 6 weeks to ensure all the mites arriving through the hive entrance are killed.

The OAE strips are low cost and easy to dispose of when spent without harming the environment, as compared to the plastic miticide strips!

 

Caution.

As at April 2024, Oxalic Acid had not been approved for varroa control in Australia.

The Almond pollination period in August will result in the varroa mites getting spread to a lot of new areas in Australia.

It will be imperative that beekeepers can legally use the OAE strips and Oxalic Acid Vaporization (OAV) in their hives after that.

When treating hives in NZ there are some very important variables to consider that can make a huge difference to what you must do to secure a good outcome. Many of these will apply in Australia.

Examples of some of the variables: -

  1. Do the hives have brood in winter?
  2. Are the hives used for pollination services in orchards or farm crops?
  3. When the honey flow starts.
  4. How many honey flows per season.
  5. Is the apiary in an area that is bad for varroa re-invasion issues in Autumn? (Very high beehive densities)
  6. Did a lot of hives swarm at a particular site in Spring? They will collapse in Autumn and spread mites.
  7. Are there a lot of feral colonies in the area (Eg. Australia) that collapse from varroa infestation and spread mites to good healthy hives before they have collapsed totally?
  8. Is there a time of year that you can have a brood break? Eg. Requeening with cells, then vaporizing with OA when there is no capped brood. Or use a queen isolation cage.
  9. Colony size and number of brood frames.
  10. Geographical region. The mites in some regions show greater resistance to synthetic miticides than other areas.
  11. Is there a lot of old dark comb in the brood box? It will harbour a lot of pathogens & miticide residues.

 

Some very important tips when using the Oxalic Acid extended-release strips (OAV) based on the ingredients as supplied by Beequip NZ.

  1. Do not add the strips to a hive full of mites. There will be a lot of bees that are wounded by the mites, and they will leave the hive. Vaporize with InstantVap first to bring mite levels down.
  2. The strips must be placed in the middle of the brood nest where they stay at the right temperature to replenish the solution as it is used up on the surface.
  3. After 6 weeks, most of the useable acid has been used up and the efficacy of the strip will greatly reduce.
  4. Just because a strip is visible in the hive, and hasn’t been chewed, doesn’t mean that it is still working effectively if over 6 weeks old.
  5. Always remove old strips when adding new strips. We put them in the same place in the hive if brood is there.
  6. A typical rule of thumb is to add 1 strip per 2 frames of brood. At the start of the honey flow, the hive should be strong. A single brood box hive with 10 frames should have 4 strips and a double brood colony have a minimum of 6 strips.
  7. You can use 1 or 2 strips in winter if the hive still has brood frames. If the hive is broodless, vaporize with Oxalic Acid before the bees go into a tight cluster.

 

Important Video

Click on: -  Varroa Issues & Solutions with Oxalic Acid.

This video is 29 minutes long and covers very important points when using Oxalic Acid. Dated 5th Dec 2022.

If you are short of time, click on the settings icon and set playback speed to 1.5

Content overview:- 

Start                     Intro

0.55                       Colony loss survey in NZ.

2.17                       Professor Phil Lester report

3.08                       Oxalic Acid.

5.07                       The legal side. (NZ)

5.40                       Randy Oliver

7.03                       Results of trial in 2019

8.25                       Strip positioning and efficacy

10.05                    Video of hive with strips

12.53                    If OA is used when mite levels are high

15.18                    OA package options.

15.41                    Soak racks and how to make the solution & soak the strips.

19.00                    Key points about using OAE

20.50                    Colony re-invasion.

21.47                    RobberGards

24.23                    Re-invasion in Autumn

25.25                    RobberGard sizes

25.41                    RobberGard video testimonial

28.36                    Wrap up and offer for zoom consultation.

InstantVap Vaporizers.

They are a very important tool to have on hand at any time for a range of actions to kill varroa mites.

It is super easy to use and very effective as an extra tool to kill all the phoretic varroa mites in a hive.

Click here to view video of the InstantVap Compact in action.

Click here to view a video showing the cleaning procedure.

Click here for more info and pricing.

 

Want to know if you have Varroa Mites?

The quickest and most accurate way is to add a sticky board to the beehives to be checked, and vaporize the hive with Oxalic Acid.

Check the sticky board for mites after 48 hours.

This method will test every bee in the hive for mites, not just a sample of bees and is more accurate than a mite wash.

It is also much quicker and cheaper.

 

A suggested Varroa Control Program (VCP) for NZ Beekeepers without using any Synthetic treatments.

This can be modified to suit the conditions in Australia.

The period that each set of strips can be in the hive could be extended in most areas in Australia. This could depend on whether there are a lot of feral colonies collapsing in the area. If so, more frequent strip replacement may be required.

 

VCP.

Early Aug.            Vaporize with OA. Remove RobberGards if no longer required till Autumn.

Late Aug.             Fit BQ OAE strips. (Oxalic Acid Extended-release cardboard strips soaked in a solution of Oxalic Acid and Glycerine.)

Early Oct.             Fit BQ OAE strips. Remove old ones.

Nov.                       Fit BQ OAE strips. Remove old ones. When adding honey supers.

Jan.                        If changing honey supers, fit BQ OAE strips. Remove old ones.

If not removing or changing honey supers, vaporize hives with OA.

Early Feb.            If no OA strips were added in Jan, vaporize with OA.

Late Feb.              Fit RobberGards. Harvest honey. Put queen in isolation cage. Fit BQ OAE strips. Vaporize with OA.

18 days later Let queen out. (Open a door)

6 days later Vaporize with OA.

Early April.          Fit BQ OAE strips. Remove old ones. Vaporize with OA.

Mid-May.            If hives don’t have a brood-break in winter, fit BQ OAE strips. Remove old ones and winter down. Vaporize with OA.

Mid-May              If hives do have a brood-break, vaporize hives with OA.

Late-June.           If there are any concerns about varroa, vaporize with OA when the bees are not in a tight cluster.

 

This VCP uses a comprehensive range of control options. In many areas, not all these steps or processes will be required.

Each beekeeper needs to find out what is required in their own circumstances.

It is extremely important to do periodic mite counts on a few random hives at each apiary site to get a true picture of the real situation.

Creating a brood break is highly recommended if possible, so that there are only phoretic varroa mites in the colony.

Virtually all these phoretic varroa mites can be killed in a hive with a single OA vaporization treatment.

Some beekeepers repeat the vaporization a week later (if the brood break is long enough) to be doubly sure.

It is very important that varroa mite numbers are kept low over summer so that the virus levels don’t explode in Autumn.

 

Click on the following articles for a lot more information.

 

Latest Oxalic Acid Research - Jan24

                History

                Mode of action.

                About Oxalic Acid

                Do Oxalic Acid treatments cause excess residues in honey?

                Maximum Residue Levels. (MRL)

                Oxalic Acid Extended-Release strips. (OAE)

                Glycerine.

                Randy Oliver Field Data for OAE.

                Humidity relevant?

                Can Varroa Mites get resistant to Oxalic Acid?

 

Potential side-effects of synthetic miticides.

                Amitraz issues

                Tau-fluvalinate and Flumethrin issues

 

Field Trial with InstantVap