The varroa destructor mite arrived in the UK in 1992. It is a parasitic mite that feeds on the fatty bodies in honey bees which weakens them and makes them more susceptible to disease. The European honey bee did not evolve exposed to the varroa mite so is more susceptible than Asian honeybees which are able to survive successfully alongside varroa.
Following the arrival of varroa into the UK there were high levels of colony loss. Various treatments were tested and used to help the bees. Varroacides where used widely and initially were quite effective in destroying varroa, however over time the varroa developed resistance to these treatments and efficacy decreased.
With the loss of these treatments an integrated approach of pest management has been encouraged whereby physical and chemical treatments are used in a holistic way to control rather than destroy completely the number of varroa in a colony of bees.
Over time opinions have split into groups of beekeepers that recommend a strict treatment regime against varroa whereas others follow an approach to try to allow the bees to develop coping strategies of their own against varroa.
Whilst both strategies have their supporters and successes the most important approach that we should take as mangers of livestock is that we must not allow our bees to suffer needlessly. So with whatever system adopted by a beekeeper it is always very important to monitor your bees and to make sure that they are not showing signs of disease because of a varroa infestation in the hives.
Systems of varroa control and monitoring are describe by the National Bee Unit of the Animal and Plant Agency and can be found on their website https://www.nationalbeeunit.com/.
A leaflet written by the Animal and Plant Agency about control of varroa can be found here.
And approved treatments can be found on the Veterinary Medicine Directorate website https://www.vmd.defra.gov.uk/ProductInformationDatabase/
Current approved products are shown in the table below. However there is a risk of varroa developing resistance to some of the products; information about this can be found here.
Treatments fall into two basic types – Varroacides, (which may be of variable efficacy as varroa has been show to develop resistance to these chemicals) and products based on Essential Oils or Organic Acids (which are less effective in destroying varroa but can be useful to reduce varroa numbers in a hive)
WVBKA recommends close monitoring of all honey bee colonies for varroa infestation and bee health, and recommends treatment with varroa control medicines only when necessary. WVBKA mentors can be contacted by members to discuss control programmes. We are currently running monitoring trials at the Shenmore apiary and will discuss results as and when available.
|2019 LICENCED TREATMENTS FOR VARROA|
|PRODUCT NAME||DISTRIBUTOR||ACTIVE INGREDIENT|
|API-Bioxal, 886 mg/g powder for in-hive use||Chemicals Laif S.P.A||Oxalic Acid|
|Apiguard Gel (25% Thymol) for Beehive Use||Vita (Europe) Limited||Thymol|
|Apilife Var Bee-Hive Strip for Honey Bees||Chemicals Laif S.P.A||Camphor Racemic, Eucalyptus Oil, Menthol Levo, Thymol|
|Apistan 10.3% w/w Bee Hive Strip||Vita (Europe) Limited||Tau Fluvalinate|
|Apitraz 500 mg Bee-hive Strips for Honey Bees||Laboratorios Calier, SA||Amitraz|
|Apivar 500 mg Bee-hive Strips for Honey Bees||Veto Pharma||Amitraz|
|Bayvarol 3.6 mg Bee-hive Strips for Honey Bees||Bayer plc||Flumethrin|
|Dany’s BienenWohl Powder and Solution for 39.4 mg/ml Bee-hive Dispersion for Honey Bees||DANY Bienenwohl GmbH||Oxalic acid dihydrate|
|MAQS Formic Acid 68.2g Beehive Strips for Honey Bees||BCW (Agriculture) Ltd.||Formic Acid|
|Oxuvar 5.7%, 41.0 mg/ml Concentrate for Solution for Honey Bees||Andermatt BioVet GmbH||Oxalic Acid|
|Oxybee Powder and Solution for 39.4 mg/ml Bee-hive Dispersion for Honey Bees||DANY Bienenwohl GmbH||Oxalic acid dihydrate|
|PolyVar Yellow 275 mg Bee-hive Strip||Bayer plc||Flumethrin|
|Thymovar 15 g Bee-hive Strips for Honey Bees||Andermatt BioVet GmbH||Thymol|
|VarroMed 5 mg/ml + 44 mg/ml Bee-hive Dispersion for Honey Bees||BeeVital GmbH||Formic Acid, Oxalic acid dihydrate|
|VarroMed 75 mg + 660 mg Bee-hive Dispersion for Honey Bees||BeeVital GmbH||Formic Acid, Oxalic acid dihydrate|