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Author Topic: Mineral and fogger to control varroa mites and tracheal mite  (Read 7930 times)
Beandoggle
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« on: February 19, 2005, 08:50:19 PM »

Hello everyone,

Being a newbie to beekeeping I am researching organic controls for eliminating varroa mite and tracheal mite popullations. I think you will be interested to know what I found if you don't already.

Dr. Pedro Rodriguez has been performing extensive research with the use of the Burgess insect fogger and the use of food grade white mineral oil with and without thymol. He has had excellent results. I have coppied his research and am planning on using it when I get my bees in the spring.

I live in Ohio and varroa and tracheal mites are in vast quantities here too. I don't like the use of pesticides and I think this is one way we can eliminate the use of them.

Dr. Rodriguez also mentions that he uses  cotton upholtry cording soaked in the mineral oil, beeswax, honey mix, which is 40" long. He installs the rope on the top frames and the bees eat the oil. This causes the tracheal mite to die and it causes the bees to coat themselves with the mineral oil.

He also fogs the hives with the mixture of food grade oil and thymol, sometimes he doesn't use thymol but still has good results. I got his research through Bee Source.com under FGMO. I hope this helps everyone. You all are great for sharing your wealth of information.
Thanks Beandoggle.
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Beandoggle
Lesli
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« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2005, 07:48:31 AM »

Thanks for sharing the info. I'm trying to go chem-free as well. Last summer was my first year as a beekeeper, so I put my bees on screened bottom boards, used essential oils in their feed, and used drone comb to trap mites.

This year, all my new packages and foundation are small cell. See the small cell discussions in this area.
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« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2005, 10:59:56 AM »

Been there, done that.  The best advice I can give you is to be open minded when evaluating your success.  Too many people want something like mineral oil to be the answer and unconsiously taint their results.

Being a newbee, it will be difficult for you to determine a safe varroa population verse a catastrophic level.  Be extremely cautious/observant in the late fall,  varroa can become an epidemic rather quickly then.

I am not trying to say mineral oil does not have merit,  just that it doesn't work in all situations and for everyone.   Yes there are people that claim great success,  but there are also many that have failed miserably.  Some try to share their failures, but often the lash back by pro-mineral oil folks cause most of us to just keep quite and move on.

I started using mineral oil many years ago when Dr. Pedro's method of application was an inverted bottle of mineral oil with a pipe cleaner wick in the entrance (similar to a boardman feeder).  I progressed through all the "improved" methods of application right up to the fogging every two weeks.   For the 5 or so years I tried mineral oil,  my loss continued to be 60% or better.  It was finally becoming too costly and I gave up and moved on to better "organic" methods (at least better for my situation).

Some things to ponder.  If fogging works, why the cord?  If cord works, why the fogging? If mineral oil works, why the thymol?  It just seems like every year or so a "new" improvement is discovered.  

Once again, I'm not  an anti-mineral oil  person, just adivising you to be open minded about it and don't think it is the holy grail.
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Beandoggle
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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2005, 12:56:28 PM »

Robo,

What other organic controls can you tell me about that you use and are successfull. Like I said I don't like chemicals and know these mites develop immunity like other pests do. Please keep me informed.
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Beandoggle
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2005, 02:00:14 PM »

Depending on what your definition of 'organic' is, but oxalic acid and formic acid are other options.

Oxalic acid has been used successfully for many years in Europe.  Last year was my first year using it,  and without jinxing myself, I'll just say I am pleased.   With only one year of use, I don't feel comfortable recommending it to others, but I would suggest considering it  in your decision.   There is plenty of information on Beesource about it.

I would have like to tried formic acid because of its ability to kill mites in capped brood.  But the difficulting in acquiring it prevented it.

I know to a lot of people, just the name sounds like it is a bad thing.  But in reality, it is a natural occuring acid that we ingest regularily.  Brocoli, for example, has a high oxalic acid content.  I have also seen studies showing honey from hives treated with oxalic acid show no higher levels than honey from hives not treated.

Take it for what it is worth.  I admire your desire to get away from harsh chemical,  just keep an open mind and don't get too attached to a particular method until you are sure it "really' works for you.
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TwT
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2005, 07:11:04 PM »

what is this stuff , has anyone ever tried it ?? is this essential oils

http://www.draperbee.com/beesupplies/supply%20images/Bee_Calmer.jpg
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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2005, 07:17:20 PM »

Ya, I've tried it.   Can't say much about it one way or the other except it can be a pain to use.   The guy that introduced it to me swore by it,  but then again he lost most of his hives last winter.  To be honest, I didn't notice any difference.

It seems almost like vaseline with essential oils,  it gives of a strong scent, but fades quickly.
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TwT
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« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2005, 07:23:36 PM »

Robo, have you ever used Api-life Var?
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« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2005, 10:52:27 PM »

I’m not sure what it is that happens sometimes when the population of Varroa explodes.  If it happens, it almost always happens around here (Southeast Nebraska) in about September or so.  Some years it doesn’t happen at all, but some years the population of mites goes from a natural drop of 6 or 7 mites in 24 hours to thousands.  This phenomena is intriguing to me and the only explanation I can see for it is mites coming in as hitchhikers from other hives that are crashing and being robbed by my bees.  Certainly SOME of the mites are coming from emerging bees and there is no where for them to get back in a cell so the population of mites on the bees seems to go up because they can’t get back in a cell, but I don’t think it’s an adequate explanation for the exponential increase in mite numbers.

Without getting into the issue of what methods are best, I think it’s significant to the success and sometimes subsequent failure of many of the methods we, as beekeepers are trying to use.  I used FGMO fog only for two years and when I killed all of the mites with Oxalic acid at the end of that two years there was a total mite load of an average of about 200 mites per hive.  This is a very low mite count.  But some people have observed a sudden increase to thousands and thousands of mites in a short time.  I believe the issue is that the FGMO (and many other systems as well) manage to create a stable population of mites within the hive.  In other words the mites emerging is balanced out by the mites dying.  This is the object of many methods.  SMR queens are queens that reduce the mites’ ability to reproduce.  But even if you get to a stable reproduction of mites, this does not preclude thousands of hitchhikers coming in.  Using powdered sugar, small cell, FGMO or whatever that gives an edge to the bees by dislodging a proportion of the mites, or preventing the reproduction of mites and seems to work under some conditions.  I believe these conditions are where there are not a significant number of mites coming into the hive from other sources.

All of these methods seem to fail sometimes when there is a sudden increase in mites in the fall.

Then there are other methods that are more brute force.  In other words they kill virtually all the mites.  Even these seem to fail sometimes.  We have assumed it’s because of resistance, and perhaps this is a contributing factor.  But what if sometimes it’s again because of this huge influx of mites from outside the hive?  Granted having the poison in the hive over a period of time when this explosion of population occurs seems to be helpful, it still sometimes fails.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2005, 07:45:23 AM »

Quote from: TwT
Robo, have you ever used Api-life Var?


Nope, never used it.
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TwT
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« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2005, 01:46:57 PM »

Quote from: Robo
Quote from: TwT
Robo, have you ever used Api-life Var?


Nope, never used it.


 here Robo, this is why I was asking? Read about half way down.

http://www.ent.uga.edu/bees/Newsletter/nov2003.htm
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« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2005, 02:05:05 PM »

Interesting...

My comment of "never used it", was not based on a disbelief of the viability.  I have no opinion one way or the other.   I would welcome an all-natural solution, and glad to see some agencies moving towards approving these products.

Just one comment though.  Have you ever smelled Thymol?
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« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2005, 02:21:01 PM »

nope never even seen it . just was wondering if anyone has  tried it  api-life VAR?
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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2005, 02:04:43 PM »

Here is something to consider about fogging with FGMO.
The fogger atomizes the molecules of the mineral oil and if the wind blows the wrong way, you can breathe these molecules into your lungs!
NO STUDIES HAVE BEEN DONE ON THE EFFECT THIS HAS ON YOUR LUNGS! Once the oil is in there, you may not be able to expel or absorb it from your lung tissue!
 I would advise anyone using a fogger with any substance, to pick up and use a respirator with vapor cartriges. You can get them at any home depot like store, or even just an ace hardware or your local hardware store. They only cost about $20-$30 and once you have the mask you can just buy replacement vapor cartridges when the ones that came with the mask are spent. This is a very short investment on your lungs and life! Happy fogging! Cheesy
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« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2005, 05:54:32 PM »

I just want to input a couple of things here.

I wouldn't put mineral oil on myself much less my bees. For those of you who don't know, mineral oil is an occlusive oil. If you put it on your skin, it will keep your skin from breathing and clog up your pores. It will also interfere with the moisture levels of your skin. Instead of moisturizing, it just keeps moisture from leaving your skin. It will interfere with anytpe of moisturizer you use on your skin.  It's not good stuff.

That's a very good point about it getting into your lungs, I would be very wary of that.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2005, 11:33:59 PM »

Quote
NO STUDIES HAVE BEEN DONE ON THE EFFECT THIS HAS ON YOUR LUNGS!


Many studies have been done on Lipid induced pneumonias and long tern damge to lungs from breathing oil vapors.  People working in factories where cooking oil is manufacturered, people who work in food processing where large amounts of food is fried etc.

The long term effects are horrible.  But it's not hard to just stay of of range of the fog.  It's slow moving, you start downwind and work your way up wind, and if there's a sudden change hold your breath and walk away.

The masks are always a good idea.

Quote
I wouldn't put mineral oil on myself much less my bees. For those of you who don't know, mineral oil is an occlusive oil. If you put it on your skin, it will keep your skin from breathing and clog up your pores. It will also interfere with the moisture levels of your skin. Instead of moisturizing, it just keeps moisture from leaving your skin. It will interfere with anytpe of moisturizer you use on your skin. It's not good stuff.


Not that I'm disagreeing.  If you can avoid it, by all means do.  That occlusivness is the exact property that kills the mites.  But it's still an inert chemical.  What do you use for Varroa that is safer than FGMO?
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Michael Bush
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lively Bee's
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« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2005, 08:14:41 PM »

Quote
nope never even seen it . just was wondering if anyone has tried it api-life VAR?


UTK used and tested it in there bee yard and I cant remember the number but it was like 70 - 75 % effective.  I will be using this treatment this year on some of my hive's.  The thing to remember is you need to treat 3 times I think it is once every 7 days and the temp needs to be above 60 degrees.

[/quote]
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