Treatment for varroa mites
Treatment for varroa mites
Fight varroa mites

Treatment for varroa mites: 3 products to include in your routine

Finding the best treatment for varroa mites can be quite challenging for beekeepers. Here are 3 products to help you contain the mite infestation and make your bees happy:

  1. Apivar (amitraz)
  2. Api-bioxal (oxalic acid)
  3. ApiLife Var (thymol)

Bonus: we give you extra tips at the end of the article to implement your strategy of treatment for varroa mites.

Apivar® (amitraz)

Apivar (amitraz) strips in beehive

First, let’s take a look at some basic principles of how Apivar works, even though some of you may already be familiar with the product. Apivar is a contact miticide. The more contacts the bees will make with the strips, the better the efficacy

Secondly, Apivar is not temperature-dependent. Meaning that you can use it whether it is 50°F or 100°F, without side effects on the bees, the brood or the queen. This is a BIG advantage, as you usually apply the treatments at the end-of-season when temperatures are still high. Or early in the year when temperatures are still low.

Another big advantage is the ease of use / efficacy ratio. Minimum effort for maximum results. You only place one strip for every five frames of bees (usually two strips per brood box) and leave them for 6 to 8 weeks. Then remove. And that’s it! If you want to reach a few extra points of efficacy, you can choose to scrap and reposition the strips at mid-treatment

With Apivar, instead of using an illegal amitraz treatment, you are choosing a product tested to guarantee a low amount of residues. The dosage is perfectly balanced to make sure that the treatment will not be overdosed or underdosed. You can be sure that using Apivar strips is a safe option for the people who will eat your honey. 

Api-bioxal® (Oxalic acid)

How to dribble oxalic acid in the hives with Api-bioxalApi-bioxal is the only oxalic acid tested and registered for use in beehives in the USA. 

The biggest advantage of Api-bioxal is its quick action (flash action), combined with the authorization to treat with supers on the hives. If you want to learn more about this new update on the labeling, click on this link. This product is therefore a safe solution to treat both between and during honey flows. With regular monitoring, it can reduce your mite load before the end-of-season treatment, helping to preserve colony health throughout the season.

Api-bioxal is also a great option for a winter treatment, during the natural brood break. The queen usually stops laying eggs between November and January, depending on region.

You can use Api-bioxal for dribbling and sublimation in the colonies. You can also spray it on package bees. If you want to learn more about the different ways to use Api-bioxal, check this brochure out

Side note: The version of Api-bioxal registered in the USA is a different product than the one registered in the European Union (which contains sugar). You will have no issue using the US product Api-bioxal in your vaporizer for sublimation, as it does not contain sugar (sucrose) and therefore does not caramelize.

ApiLifeVar® (Thymol)

ApiLifeVar anti-varroa treatment based on thymol, camphor, L-menthol and eucalyptus oilApiLifeVar is a thymol product with added benefits. It contains 4 ingredients: thymol, L-menthol, eucalyptus oil and camphor. This synergy of ingredients makes ApiLifeVar special, as it requires a lower concentration of thymol to be effective. It is designed to reduce side effects without a loss of efficacy.

One key aspect of this product is its capability to be effective even with cooler temperatures. Other thymol products tend to be less effective or have more side effects when temperatures go down. You can find a summary here of two studies comparing the efficacy and tolerability under different climate conditions. 

As a bonus, you do not need to add extra space on the top bars to install the treatment.

Treatment for varroa mites: building your strategy

    Depending on the strength of the mite infestation, you will probably have to apply several treatments throughout the year. Remember that mite infestation can vary a LOT from one year to the other.

    Here are a few takeaways to build a good strategy against varroa mites:

    • Remember that varroa mite monitoring should always be the first step of your strategy! Knowing how strong your enemy is will help you adjust your battle strategy. 
    • Talking about mite monitoring: check your infestation BEFORE and AFTER treatment.
    • If the infestation is way too high, you may want to apply a flash treatment before using a slow-release treatment. Slow-release treatments are working great. But if you give them the Everest to climb, they may not succeed independently.
    • Remember that the varroa mite population doubles every month. If you do not monitor and treat during the season, your infestation after the last honey flow might be out of control.
    • ALWAYS treat all hives in the bee yard at the same time. If you know there are several bee yards in the area, consider treating all of them at the same time.
    • Rotating miticides is a good thing. It targets the varroa mites in different ways. You can rotate during the year and/or between years.
    • We recommend renewing wax combs every 3 years, to ensure good quality of the wax.
    • Only use registered treatments for varroa mites and read the labels carefully before applying them.
    • Remove the treatment at the end of the treatment period! Exposing the mites to low doses of an active ingredient throughout the winter is definitely NOT a healthy habit. Removing the product is very important to make sure that our arsenal of treatments will continue to work overtime.