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Date:         Fri, 29 Mar 1996 06:38:56 -0600
Sender:       Discussion of Bee Biology <BEE-L@CNSIBM.ALBANY.EDU>
Comments:     Authenticated sender is <allend@[]>
From:         Allen Dick
Organization: The Beekeepers
Subject:      Applying Formic


My understanding is that slow release of formic has negative effects on honey production compared to quick release. Of course, YMMV, and perhaps sufficient tests have not been run to establish this without a doubt. I also thought I understood that mature varroa are a reddish brown, not black.

At any rate, any device which is proven to provide successful control of varroa *economically* without diminishing honey production and requiring repeat visits to apiaries is likely to be a boon. Such a device would have to be very inexpensive to be of commercial use.

The current fashion in formic treatment in Canada has moved towards using 'Mite Wipes' which are apparently just the soaker pads used in the bottom of retail meat trays in supermarkets. The pads are enclosed in plastic which is perforated slightly on the one side (which is placed on the top bars). Overall size is about 7" X 4" and the pad itself is about 6" X 3". Thickness is about 1/8".

A suitable number of pads are arranged in a pail and an appropriate, measured amount of formic added. The pail is lidded, and left overnight. In the morning, the formic has distributed itself through the pads and they can be applied with tongs or gloves to the hives. Cost? about 2 cents each plus the cost of formic. Danger of spills and fumes etc. is greatly reduced, as the liquid is not handled directly.

Release is quite quick, and there is no problem with acid getting on the bees or running out the door, assuming some care is used to smoke the bees down a bit, and that there is room over the top bars for such a pad.

Application can be repeated as many times as necessary, but less than four seems inadequate for varroa. The spacing of the treatments can vary form 5 to 10 days, apparently without much impact on results, and recent news is that the formic can be applied with good effect any time of day, as long as the bees are not clustered.

Recent results in Canada (unpublished) indicate that formic is noticeably less effective than even one strip of Apistan in controlling varroa, particularly in cases where infestations exceed 10% by alcohol wash measurement.

We have not used formic or Apistan, so this is not first hand info. I am of the school of thought that one must monitor closely and not use controls until tests indicate a need. The cure can be worse than an (unproven) affliction. We have the acid, we have the pads, we just don't (yet) see the levels of mites to justify application.

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