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Author Topic: Stratiolaelaps - A bug to Fight Varroa?  (Read 2616 times)
billabell
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« on: February 20, 2013, 08:46:47 PM »

On Beesource today Michael Palmer wanted to know if anyone had heard of such a possible study in this area. I contacted Brian Spencer at Applied Bio-nomics, the producer of Stratiolaelaps a bug that would attack varroa mites and apparently there have been a couple of trials that have been successful. The following is a copy of part of my email exchange with him:(start at the bottom and scroll up)
[email]
You can buy Stratiolaelaps from any of the distributors on the list.
I think George was putting in about 50 ml per hive. So, one bottle can do 20 hives.
Brian

From: Bill Abell [mailto:abell.bill@gmail.com]
Sent: February-20-13 4:50 PM
To: Brian Spencer
Subject: Re: [Applied Bio-nomics contact] Varroa Mites

Brian,
Thank you for the information and your efforts on behalf of the honey bees. I certainly hope you will be successful. I do not use any chemicals in my 4 hives as I think it is incredibly dangerous to the bees, myself, my family and friends who get some of the honey. It is difficult to keep the hives healthy and alive because of varroa directly and indirectly through disease, killing the bees. I know that most beekeepers even if they now use chemicals would be ecstatic if you or someone came up with a natural remedy. I assume that you do not have an objection with me sharing your email with my fellow beekeepers. I believe the beekeeping community would be behind such an effort and would give you all the help we could. 

On Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 6:15 PM, Brian Spencer <brianabl@telus.net> wrote:

Hi Bill

I have copied Margaret Skinner, a professor at University of Vermont, who is investigating the opportunity of doing research on the topic, and, George Scott, a researcher at SRI Inc in Ontario, Canada. George has, single handily, proceeded with this research in spite of being challenged by provincial and federal authorities, making things uncomfortable for him. I have run into similar, subtle discouragement in the past 15 years when I was trying to get trials like this one done.
As far as I am concerned, I have seen enough evidence to say that I am confident that Stratiolaelaps scimitus effectively controls the Varroa mite, without posing any risk to a hive.
But, being the one who is producing the product, I am not the one who should be “objectively” scrutinizing it.
There is no doubt that bee keepers need a lot of help. Honey Bees, in the US, do not fall under USDA Aphis plant protection. Because they are not native, they have always been treated as “livestock” falling into a group of government departments that has no interest or understanding of insects, outside of Veterinary medicine.
For me, this is just a personal thing. We make our money selling this mite to control agricultural plant pests. With the small amounts that would be used in Honey Bees, it isn’t a big deal for us. So, I just want to help.
I certainly want to stay involved with the research, so, I will take a look at the forum. Perhaps George can send a link to one of his videos. This is the way that we will make progress, from the beekeepers back up the chain. I am currently researching a new formulation of the carrier that will allow us to do trials in people’s houses for Bed Bugs. If we can come up with a viable product, we may market this product, which is already being used by pet distributors to control poultry lice and phoretic mites in reptiles and tarantula, and Hermit Crabs, directly to Bee Keepers. And, we have a trial in Oregon at a Dog Kennel for Flea control going on. But, from a commercial point of view, this mite usually works in a single application, providing persistent control, so, all we are really going to be doing is taking millions of dollars away from the chemical industry, which is probably why we run into such interesting roadblocks.
Brian 

 

From: Bill Abell [mailto:abell.bill@gmail.com]
Sent: February-20-13 1:07 PM
To: Brian Spencer
Subject: Re: [Applied Bio-nomics contact] Varroa Mites

 

Brian,
I am just a beekeeper in Lexington, VA. I saw a forum post discussing a rumor that someone was working on this type of effort to control varroa. I am sure you can appreciate that beekeepers all over the world are interested. You can see the forum thread at http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?278414-Possible-Mite-Control
Perhaps you could join the forum and let everyone know what is hoped for and the status. Thanks.
Bill

On Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 2:31 PM, Brian Spencer <brianabl@telus.net> wrote:

I need to know who is asking first.
I reason I am asking is that we have found considerable roadblocks doing this research. The research in Canada has been largely secret because of this. Once I know who you are, I will pass your contact info on to the researcher, who will then decide whether or not to contact you.
It is hoped that the Pennsylvania research will be out in the open, but nothing has happened yet.
Brian

 









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Bush_84
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« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2013, 10:54:13 PM »

Interesting.  I will say that historically when have introduced one nonnative thing to control another nonnative thing, we only make things worse. 
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10framer
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« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2013, 12:10:20 AM »

bush 84 i tend to agree with that but it sure would be nice to find that magic bullet.  i'm going to be loading up my ground with the nematodes that eat hive beetle larvae when the temperatures tick up a little more.
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Bush_84
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« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2013, 12:22:44 AM »

Ya everybody wants a magic bullet, but honestly will there ever be one?  Most magic bullets have had some sort of downside.  Many old tx seem to impregnate wax.  Hopguard takes multiple to and is expensive.  The new maqs seems to be rough on queens.  Waiting to see about Apivar.  I will probably try it this fall.  I suspect most will hate the 6 week treatment period.  I will use in the fall and harvest honey as early as possible and treat as I harvest. 
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2013, 05:39:41 AM »

We used to have a severe problem with mole crickets destroying our St Augustine lawns here in FL. Tons of poisons were used to try to control it. Then someone quietly distributed a natural enemy of the mole cricket, I think it was a fly. Now it is rare to see them and we no longer have to use any poisons to kill them. They are just gone and we have not had any problems with the fly. It was a real win win situation.
Jim
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edward
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« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2013, 06:29:12 AM »

We have a river area that flood so the mosquitoes explode and multiply making life impossible for those that live there, they have been successful in killing the larvae in the water pools by introducing a fungus that clogs there lungs and drowns them.

the down side is that its costly and doesn't last long so they have to do it every year.

mvh edward  tongue
« Last Edit: February 21, 2013, 12:11:32 PM by edward » Logged
Finski
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« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2013, 07:26:52 AM »

.
And what bees think about those Stratiolaelapses.

Bees clean their hives very well. Otherwise the hive with valuable food and brood storages will be full all kinds of gang.


Just like that........you pour antimites into the hive and they kill the mites.

http://chrissladesbeeblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/how-are-the-mitey-fallen/

A huge story!

.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2013, 07:38:36 AM by Finski » Logged

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Michael Bush
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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2013, 10:03:29 AM »

I wonder what they eat when they run out of Varroa...
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Michael Bush
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D Coates
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2013, 10:40:43 AM »

I wonder what they eat when they run out of Varroa...

Along that same line of thinking, as a hunter and a shooter, a silver bullet is still a bullet.  It may take out the target but you're always supposed to be very cognisant where the bullet goes afterwards.  Unleashing a non-native species needs to be researched methodically ahead of time.
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Moots
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2013, 11:24:36 AM »

I wonder what they eat when they run out of Varroa...

Along that same line of thinking, as a hunter and a shooter, a silver bullet is still a bullet.  It may take out the target but you're always supposed to be very cognisant where the bullet goes afterwards.  Unleashing a non-native species needs to be researched methodically ahead of time.

Couldn't agree more, I'm all for science and research and appreciate the efforts to solve the problem.  However, it just seems like often these attempts end up causing more harm than good.  Look at the brilliant idea to plant Kudzu to battle erosion.  The stuff literally takes over everything and because of it's shallow root system really does nothing to reduce erosion, a real loss-loss solution!  Sad
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billabell
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« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2013, 11:45:34 AM »

Of course there are many concerns in these types of biological solutions. As long as you understand the possible problems and investigate and act responsibly you should be safe. I really do not know if these mites are native or not, except that the seller says so. However, they have been used for years in the greenhouse industry and w/o any reported problems. Honey bees are not native and these mites are native to the UK and Europe. By the way what is native in any event? Who knows?   
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Finski
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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2013, 01:08:59 PM »

However, they have been used for years in the greenhouse industry and w/o any reported problems.

Greenhouse and beehive are a little bit dfferent. I do not know any assistant bug which act in the beehive as house cleaner or in symbiosis.
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billabell
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« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2013, 02:06:06 PM »

Another email forwarded to me by Brian Spencer at Applied Bio-nomics from George Scott At SRI Lab who is conducting trials in Canada.
It looks promising. Perhaps someone knows Stacy Hickman the entomologist at the University of VT. I am wondering why a chemical company would be funding this.

> From: "SRI Inc" <sri@itcanada.com>
> Date: 21 February, 2013 8:21:08 AM PST
> To: "Brian Spencer" <brianabl@telus.net>
> Cc: "Sandy Mitchell" <nic@niagara.com>, "Cynthia Scott-Dupree" <cscottdu@uoguelph.ca>, "Marg kaladopolus" <panosmarg@gmail.com>
> Subject: [Applied Bio-nomics contact] Varroa Mites and L3K Apiary trials
>
> HI Brian,
> Thanks for taking the precaution.
> I made a full presentation with noted etymologist Stacey Hickman, at the Niagara Beekeepers meeting in Feb. She was a big hit !!
> We had a professional video team record the session. I will provide you with the video once we complete the edit. This information update session was well received.
>
> There is no doubt that the varroa populations are seriously reduced by the HAM Ss. There is no doubt that the bio treatments improved bee numbers and hive hygiene. Also our highest honey producer was a bio treated hive. We are starting to look at some additional issues like drone impact, queen cell, swarming and hive replication activity, and reduction of other negative hive issues including bacteria and fungal issues.
>
> The current trials are in their second year. We are looking at side effects during the over wintering phase. Last year we had a very non typical warm winter, but all of the colonies treated with HAM Ss overwintered very well. This winter is typical.
>
> During a warm spell in Jan. 2013, we opened one hive for sampling. The bees were in very good order. Hygiene was excellent. The seals were good and the bee ball was strong. Food supplies were adequate. We predict a successful overwintering. All hives are currently showing normal healthy overwintering behaviour. Most importantly they are all alive.
>
> We have been focusing on bio control dosage, frequency and timing.
> In 2013 we intend to reduce the dosage from 250 ml to 150 ml. In our opinion 250 ml is too much for a two super colony. 250 ml would be for the 3 large super brood colonies only.
>
> For frequency, we intend to inoculate once in the spring. The HAM Ss appears to be breeding in the hive. In our strongest hives , when we went to inoculate in the fall, we found two issues:
>
> 1. The HAM Ss were still present from the spring inoculation
> 2. Varroa numbers were very low going into the winter season.
>
> We believe they, HAM Ss, are breeding up to the level of available varroa. One test hive did not get a fall inoculation and it appears to be progressing very healthily.
> We will know more as these hives come out of the winter.
>
> So for these questions of dosage, frequency and timing we are looking at the following:
>
> 1. DOSAGE -150 ml
>
> 2. TIMING - earlier inoculation than as prescribed by the provincial apiarist for chemical treatments ( about 1 to 2 weeks ) When the varroa appear on our sticky boards at 5 rather than 10, we will bio control inoculate.
>
> 3. FREQUENCY - 1/2 of our colonies will only get one spring treatment. The other 1/2 will get inoculations in the spring and fall. We will then observe the activity and survival rates as these colonies over winter for the third year.
>
> After three overwintering successes we will feel very comfortable about publishing.
>
> In a separate beeyard we are going to inoculate a central feeding hive for varroa infected 5 colonies. As the bees emerge in early spring they will enter the feeding hive. In order to get to the feed they must pass through a full framed 9 frame super, coated with HAM Ss. We are looking to see if the bees transport the HAM Ss back to the hives as hitch hikers. Certainly they transport varroa by this hitch hiker method, so we will have a look. This has the potential to be a very inexpensive solution for the big commercial beekeepers.
>
> It may be that the HAM Ss leave the hive to go to ground for the winter and we doubt that they will migrate up to the hive once they leave, so re-inoculation is important. We will test for over wintering.
>
> The single biggest hurdle to this program may be the small hive beetle. This destructive bee killer is 40 kM south of us, 120 Km upwind (west ) and 20 kM north of our main beeyard. I have been in touch with the nearest bee keepers and we will not be importing any bees within 2 Km of our main test area. The small hive beetle however can fly 40 Km, so it is only a matter of time.
>
> It is our hope that the distinctly different behaviour ( rapid movement of adults and larva ) of the SHB will attract the feeding impulse of the HAM Ss. If there is any contact you have to introduce the SHB adults and larva to the HAM Ss under microscopic lab conditions, we would like to see if they feed and their feeding behaviour. Do you have any beekeeper friends in Hawaii? Let me know as this would solve another piece of the puzzle and allow us some form of protection and SHB damage prevention.
>
> Several other beekeepers are going to be joining this trial as they see the potential for solving many of the problems with chemical resistance and other chemical related negatives.
>
> At this point I do issue a caution as we do not know all of the side effects nor have we quantified all of the negatives or shortfalls of our potential bio control solution. On the other hand, there also may be many more positives for honey bees. There may be behavioural changes within the hive stimulated by the large presence of the HAM Ss. The bees may be using the HAM Ss like a tool as observed by the keepers of spiders and crabs. This is a potentially powerful aspect of your bio control and a variable we are trying to define for better understanding of all the mechanisms at work here.
>
> I have a meeting tonight with our primary funding group. SRI Petro Chemicals Inc has provided much of the funding in the past and they have notified me that they will only cover 50% of our go forward work on honey bees and the major bio diversity initiative we have been working on for the past 7 years. Keep your fingers crossed in hope for our success tonight.
>
> Cheers
> G
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RHBee
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« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2013, 04:39:09 PM »

I don't know about the rest of you guys but I would try this out in one of my colonies. I would keep it separate from my other ones until I saw the results though.
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Ray
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« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2013, 06:19:27 PM »

I'm looking forward to seeing the results of the tests, would be nice if they could replace the chemicals!
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10framer
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« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2013, 06:23:49 PM »

I wonder what they eat when they run out of Varroa...

according to the follow up they hope they'll move to the hive beetles.  it all sounds a little to good to be true.
i suppose it could happen, though.
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Bush_84
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« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2013, 06:33:41 PM »

http://store.evergreengrowers.com/prostores/servlet/Detail?no=1

Are those the same things?  $28.00 for a one time treatment?  I'll take it!  However I will let others tinker first.
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10framer
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« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2013, 08:32:57 AM »

bush 84, again i'm wit you.  once they prove it and raise the price to ten times as much i'll buy in.
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Joe D
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« Reply #18 on: February 22, 2013, 09:37:09 AM »

Well, after Bush_84 and 10 farmer have used it a couple years and think it's ok I might give it a try.  Does sound good.




Joe
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10framer
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« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2013, 09:46:33 AM »

if you wait that long you won't have to try it joe.  by then hive beetles and varroa will be a thing of the past.  maybe they'll start curing cancer and removing tough stains after that.
i seriously want it to work but usually if something seems to good to be true it is.
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