Pesty Beesness

Hello 2020!

I thought I’d write about a topic that keeps coming up at the beekeeper meetings and one that I’ve avoided mostly because my mom takes care of the dirty work. This year, however, my mom needed to borrow my car battery to vaporize the bees. As I watched, I realized it’s actually a fairly quick procedure that gets rid of the pesky varroa mites and only gets your bees a little bit high (or maybe just disgruntled).

These mites are really annoying. They keep coming back and even if you think you’ve killed them all, you’ll get new ones from a neighboring hive. So regular treatment to reduce these bloodsucking tick look-alikes is an absolute must.

There are several different methods. Pick your poison:

  • Vaporize = Oxalic acid crystals that are heated up and vape the hive
  • Formic acid = Available in gel packs, it’s very caustic and can be applied by dribbling
  • Thymol = Strips soaked in strong smelling essential oil that are placed inside the hive. This product is illegal in Canada for political reasons.

We vaporize after we remove the honey for the last time and in the winter. It’s pretty simple as long as your hives are within reach of the car battery unless you have a portable battery.

  1. Prior to administration, you should take out and clean the bottom board.
  2. Put the specified amount of oxalic acid in the container. Put on your suit – bees won’t like this procedure. Wait until a time when most bees will be inside the hive like around dinner.
  3. Connect wires to the negative and positive of the car battery. Push the vaporizing instrument into hive for 2 minutes max and quickly block entrance with foam so bees cannot storm out in fury.
  4. Pull the vaporizer out but keep the entrance blocked for about 15 minutes to allow the fumes to work their deadly magic.
  5. Open the entrance as before and put back the bottom board as per usual.
  6. One day later check the bottom board to find out how many mites dropped. If you have over 10, you’ll need to repeat the procedure in 48 hours. Repeat until you see less than 10 dead mites.

    It’s important to know when to vaporize and how often. But for now, see if you can find a mite, either a dead one on the bottom board or one attached to a bee. And I’ll get back to you with more info on this topic shortly. 🙂

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