Varroa Mite Control – Formic Pro

Hi there. I’d like to talk to you today about treating for varroa mites. We’re gonna do a series of videos on the methods that we use for controlling of varroa mites populations. And that will consist of Formic Pro, a formic acid product, Apivar, a strip product, and then oxalic acid. And we use the drip method or trickle method for oxalic acid. We monitor colonies, you may have seen the three videos that we’ve done on different monitoring methods. And we do that to know really, when we need to treat, rather than whether we need to treat. We always need to do some kind of fall treatment here, but sometimes that may need to be as early as August. So we start monitoring our hives in late July early August to see when that first treatment needs to be done. So coming right up, we’ll have our first video on using Formic Pro in the late summer. So Formic Pro is the latest product that’s available from NOD Apiary here in Ontario. We’ve been working with formic acid for close to 30 years now. 

But NOD took on a project of trying to make a safe product for bees with formic acid. And they’ve gone through many different iterations of their product. What the goal is, is to have a constant release of the material. If too much comes out at once it can be very toxic to bees, it can kill young bees, it can kill brood, and it can even cause the queen to be killed inside the hive. So we have to be very careful with this product. And their current version has a coating on the strips to slow the release down so you don’t have those toxic situations. Even still, we have to be very careful with how we use it. We like to use it in late summer. If there is a queen problem, we still have an opportunity to requeen the colony. And for us it’s a time of year, we’ve harvested our summer honey, our hives are down to a height that works with this product. And it is the only product that we can use with honey supers on the hive. So it’s a very useful product in that regard. But temperature wise, we can use it between ten and 29.5 degrees C. 

So if the forecast is for anything warmer than that, you really can’t use it at that point. In Celsius that or in Fahrenheit rather, that works out to 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. So that’s your range. What we do is base how we apply this treatment on the temperatures and you’ll see what I mean in a moment. So let’s talk about hive configuration here. We use single brood chamber hives, so in that case, the product is placed above the first brood chamber. If you used to brood chamber hives, you put the product in between the two brood chambers. As far as honey supers are concerned, it’s OK to have honey supers on. But you don’t want to have too many, so one or two would be the maximum. And as far as ventilation is concerned, it’s really important that the front entrance is left wide open so the bees are able to control the ventilation the product doesn’t get overpowering for them. Since we use a screen bottom board here, it provides an access of ventilation. So we need to close that up at the back so there isn’t too much ventilation in the colony. 

So first we take off the honey supers and just set those on the ground. In this case, it’s just one. Oh, but it’s a heavy one. And I prefer to put the strips laid on top of the queen excluder. I think the product can get damaged a bit more underneath the queen excluder. So we now are ready to place it on the hive. If we’re going to apply one strip it’s pretty strong stuff. We apply it directly above the brood chamber in a central area. If we’re going to apply two strips, we offset them like so. And we only use two strips if the weather’s gonna be fairly cool. And we’ll use one strip if the weather’s gonna be quite warm. The one strip requires that you come back ten days later and remove the original strip and place on a new strip. If you use the two, they can both go on at once, but you need to be cautious if it’s gonna be very hot, that may be too much formic acid. So then we just place the honey super back in place and close the hive up. Once we have the treatment applied to the colony, we leave the bees alone for the full duration of the treatment period. 

And that’s important because if we open up the hive while that formic acid is being released, it’s possible for the bees to turn on the queen ball her and kill her. So we just leave the hive alone. The exception to that is if we apply a single treatment, we do need to open up the hive ten days later to apply a second treatment. Some of the pros of this product are that it can be used midsummer during a honey flow it can be used when there are honey supers present on the colony. It’s unique among mity sites in that it can kill mites underneath the brood capex. Some of the cons are we need to be careful with the temperatures when it’s being used. We do need to wear personal protective equipment. So read the label instructions and you’ll have good guidance on how to use the product. Thank you very much for watching, see you next time.