Varroa Treatment Recommended Protocols for Maximum efficacy
In this article I will go over some tips and tricks on how to maximise the efficacy of your varroa treatments in the Spring and Autumn months.
Dropping your hives into a single brood box over winter is a great way to not only over winter your hives but to greatly increase your varroa kill. The smaller the surface area that your treatments need to release a lethal dose to kill the varroa mite will greatly increase your chances of reducing your varroa mites within your hive. The more cramped the bees are within the hive allows for good heat retention in the hive, this also allows the bees to be exposed to the varroa treatment and any varroa on the bees will hence be killed from the varroa treatment. Treatments such as Apistan rely on contact chemical release. This means a bee with a varroa mite on it must touch the strip for the chemical to kill the varroa. As the bees comes in contact with the strip the mite picks up a minute amount of the chemical Tau-Fluvlinate – whilst another minute quantity emerges from within the strip to take its place on the surface becoming available for other passing bees, as the bees interact within the hive, the active ingredient is spread throughout the colony.
Backfilling your hive with syrup as your treatment is active within your hive eliminates areas that varroa can hide and or escape the treatment. This will isolate the varroa to the brood nest where your treatments should be placed giving a greater probability of the varroa treatments killing any varroa within your hive. The backfilling also aids in heat retention within your hive, this also activates your queen to lay, leaving honey on your hives does not activate your queen to lay. Activating your queen to continue to lay in autumn is critical to maintain a high population through winter which gives you a greater chance your hive survives through the winter.
It is highly recommended that you measure your varroa count in your hive/apiary, this way you can establish the percentage within your hive that your treatment needs to work with. Using an alcohol mite wash gives you a very accurate measure of your varroa count within your hive. If your varroa mite count measures above 5% you are considered in the dangerous category and need immediate treatment. Based on your mite load above 5% you should expect a high number of live mites remaining in the hive, at treatments end, You should do a mite wash to establish the percentage at the end of your treatment and look into doing a second treatment to get your mite load down to that 1% range. Combining a treatment after your 8 week period such as Apiguard will help get your mite levels even further down to give a total treatment efficacy above that minimum 95% threshold. Anything under 3% is considered manageable at commencement of your scheduled treatment period, you would consider your treatment to be giving you that minimum 95% efficacy rate when your mite load is at or under 3%.
Please bear in mind that doing treatments in August and February does not guarantee that particular year the mite levels will be contained to that schedule. You need to monitor your varroa levels as each year varies for varroa, some years varroa are worse than others. Therefore, just doing mite treatments on specific months does not guarantee success, only you can know what your mite levels are through mite washes allowing for appropriate action at certain times. You may need to treat earlier than normal. It is totally dictated by the level of varroa within your hive. It is recommended to do a minimum of 5 mite washes every season to establish your levels at the beginning of spring treatment, end of spring treatment, the middle of the summer as you enter your honey flow and then the beginning of autumn treatment and end of autumn treatment.
Rotating your treatments is a sure way to kill any mites that may have survived your previous treatment, the mites may have some mutation that allows it to survive the treatment you used previously. Using a different treatment every other treatment will help kill off any mutation of resistant mite strain allowing for higher efficacy rates when you go back to your rotated treatment.