Varroa Mite Control – Apivar

Hi there. Today we’re going to talk about using synthetic Apivar products that are, generally speaking impregnated into plastic strips. These materials are contact (UNKNOWN). The bees walk on the strips, the mites walk on the bees, and that’s how the mites come in contact with the materials. So, they’re toxic for mites and less toxic for bees. We started off almost 30 years ago using a product called Apistan. We use that material almost exclusively for about ten years, and then the mites developed resistance to that product because there’s so many generations of mites in a year. Any kind of mutations can lead to resistance to products like this, and synthetic materials only work on one metabolic pathway in the mite. So, it’s easy for the mites to overcome one single change in their genes. So, we use Apistan for those ten years and then we started using a product called CheckMite, active ingredient being Coumaphos, it’s an organophosphate it’s pretty rough material. Organophosphates are toxic to mammals as well as mites. 

And so we didn’t use that product for very long, but it did get us through a little bit of a gap there. For approximately ten years now, we’ve been using a product called Apivar, also in a strip form and it’s very effective. Our research has shown that of the synthetic materials, it is the least toxic to honeybees. So, it’s good that way but we need to protect this product to be able to use it for long term. So, what we’re recommending and what others are recommending is that we rotate between different products to ensure that we knock out any mites that may be starting to develop a resistance to Apivar. So, that’s why we use formic acid sometimes and oxalic acid as well. So, let’s talk a little bit about how to use these Apivar strips. Let’s talk a bit about the timing here. These strips need to be in for 42 days. So, if I were to use them in the spring, we need to put them in quite early in the spring and late winter even. There is also a withdrawal period if you’re using them in the spring. 

So, follow the Labor regulations on that. But again, you would have to use them quite early if you’re going to use in the spring. Most times here in this part of the world, we use these strips as a fall treatment. We have a fall nectar fall that ends around mid-September from goldenrod flowers. And after that, honey has been harvested by the bees and we’ve harvested it from the colonies then we can apply the strips. We can’t use these strips when they’re honey supers in place. We also need to protect our hands. It’s not particularly toxic material, but it can cause some dermatitis. So, you need to protect your hands with nitrile gloves are the best. So here we have a hive that’s ready to have the strips put in place. The placement of the strips is really important. This is a very warm day so you can see the bees aren’t clustered at all. They’re covering all ten frames. Remember, these tips are going in for 42 days. By the time that time has elapsed, the colony will be tightly clustered it will have lost a lot of summer. 

Bees will be smaller and more tightly clustered because of the temperature. So, that cluster will be in this zone right in here because this material is somewhat repellent to the bees. We need to place it right in the middle of where the cluster will be later on, so that if we put one strip in there and one strip in there and just very gradually push them down, the queen happens to be in the way. If we do it gradually, we’re not going to injure her. Note that we have the two points going in the same direction so that the strips will lie down well when we put our canvas inner cover in place, so we put that on and then we come back in 42 days to remove the strips. When we’re back pulling those strips out, the bees will by that point have really welded them in place with propolis. So, it’s challenging to pull them out with their hands. So, what we use is a pair of pliers. And when we’re doing that, we don’t even need to wear the nitrile gloves. So, we just grab them and it’ll be tough to pull them out, but we pull those out and then dispose of them in the household garbage. 

So, Apivar is a very effective product, it’s roughly 90% effective. So, that’s one of the pros. Another one is that it’s quite easy to handle and it’s safe to handle as well. Another pro is that it’s not temperature dependent, so we can use it at different times of year. As far as cons are concerned. There can be a build up of contamination in the colony not so much the honey so that’s one problem. Mites can develop resistance to it as well. So, we need to be handling it with good care to prevent that. A pro and con is a timing issue. In the spring, it’s a bit of a con because it’s such a long treatment period and it’s hard to fit that in our spring management. Whereas in the fall, a long treatment period is a good thing because it helps protect the hives from re infestation coming in from other colonies. But on balance, it’s a very effective product and it’s something we need to be considering as one of the tools in our toolkit. Thank you very much for watching. I’ll see you another time.