After you have harvested honey or determined that you will not be harvesting honey – it is now time (July) to treat your bees for Varroa mites. If you have not yet obtained your treatments you need to order them right away.
For what it is worth I personally plan to use Apiguard at this time of year – because it is hot, and Apivar works better in hot weather while some other treatments become harmful at high temps. But any of these will work if used correctly.
One word of caution – Stinky treatments like Apiguard, and Mite-away-quick-strips produce smelly fumes. Hives need proper amounts of ventilation and must have a strong enough population to fan and ventilate the hives. Not enough ventilation or not enough bees to fan can result in absconding (apiguard) or queen death (Miteaway) – an interuption in brood production or some brood death is not unusual or cause for alarm.
The main thing is to do something – don’t let confusion or inability to choose keep you from acting. If you want to go the simplest/easiest route then Apivar – synthetic amatraz – is definitely the silver bullet at this time. If you want to use naturally occuring treatments then any of the others.
Treatment free – failing to make a choice and then not applying any treatments is not the same as treatment free beekeeping. Being a treatment free beekeeper requires proactive action, and if anything more knowledge than treating. If you don’t know what I am referring to then you probably need to treat.
If you don’t do anything about mites there is an excellent chance that your bees will be dead by next spring. Mites spread viruses – viruses make your hives sick – sick bees can’t feed and care for offspring in good numbers – compromised fall buildup results in weak hives with health issues because of malnutrition and disease – weakened hives are more subject to robbing which weakens them even more while spreading mites to other hives – normal winter/late spring stress is too much for weakened hives – dead colonies are incorrectly blamed on winter weather.
There is a fairly extensive article on all of the options for varroa mite treatments available at this link – but at this time (mid summer) the mainstream options for mite treatment are limited to…
EPA regulated naturally occurring mite treatments
- Miteaway Quick Strips / formic acid ***– can kill mites inside of capped brood as well as phoretic mites – Only 1 treatment required. Requires careful application with attention to temp and hive strength to avoid bee and brood mortality – can result in queen loss if miss used. Daytime Temp of 50 – 90 F specified on day of treatment, but bee/brood mortality increases with temp. $4.70 per treatment. Miteaway Instructions
- Apilife Var / Thymol and other EO – Very safe time release delivery. Requires 3 treatments to be effective if brood is present – Use when average daytime temps are between 59 and 69 F. About $3.65 per treatment. Apilife Instructions
- Apiguard / thymol ***– Safe, low bee or brood mortality – but does cause bearding and interruption of brood rearing for a few days. Requires 2 applications at warm to high temperatures – 60 /100° F. Requires a spacer – About $3.60 per treatment. Apiguard Instructions
- Hop Guard / add HopGuard® II to hives at the rate of 2 insert strips per 10 frames. Strips should be hung between frames. HopGuard® II is most effective when used during the pre-pollination period (before sealed brood), mid-summer, and at the onset of winter brood development. HopGuard® II may be applied up to 3 times per year,
EPA regulated Synthetic mite treatments
- Apivar/amitraz – currently reported to be extremely effective. One application of 2 strips required. About $6.00 per treatment. No evidence of resistance after more than 15 years – no application temp recommended (that I know of) Apivar Instructions and Info
Please read and educate yourself to make a choice.