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Formic acid treatments kills Queens

 
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2014 8:31 pm    Post subject: Formic acid treatments kills Queens Reply with quote

I read in the Danish bee magazine this year many loosing their queens after they treated against varroa with Formic acid. I didn't know "soft" treatments can do such damage
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Soft treatments? Smile

Formic acid is pretty rough to bees (and mites!) and you easily can kill queens and/or bees if you overdose. A friend of mine calls the flash treatment with formic acid: hand grenade. It is certainly the tool of choice to cleanup a heavily infested hive.

From all organic acids, formic acid is the most dangerous for the bees. Second is liquid oxalic acid. Dribbled oxalic acid kills brood and shortens the lifespan of the bees. The least dangerous is vaporized oxalic acid. (Least dangerous for the bees, most dangerous for the beekeeper.)

Lactic acid is almost useless, I'd say. I never saw a significant effect on mites. If you spray too much, you see a lot of dead bees. I rarely use it.

Formic acid has a long history and was used as long as 114 years ago, when Ferdinand Gerstung used it in his peat moss-walled hives (insulation!). From time to time he dribbled formic acid onto the walls to help the bees maintain a healthy hygienic hive atmosphere. That was 1900 and long before varroa.

Formic acid certainly kills a lot of pathogens, because it is antiseptic. It is known, that it also kills beneficial symbionts, like the chelifer (pseudoscorpion).

The good thing about organic acids (well... Rolling Eyes ) is, that it doesn't buildup in the hive. Formic acid dissolves into CO2 and H2O within days. Oxalic acid, too, but it needs up to four weeks to do so. The acids will build up - if used on open stores/open honey. It goes into the honey and will reside there for a long time. Years. Because there is a natural content of organic acids in honey, you can't really distinguish from the natural level of honey. But it is a good advice to use the acids only on capped honey.

The recent losses due to formic acid I know of, have been caused by MAQS (mite away quick strips). This is more or less a flash treatment. Some people did not read the instructions which says: do not remove the paper envelope. Of course some people, in fact a lot of people, did remove the paper and the formic acid was released in one go, which killed not only queens but complete hives and apiaries. Rolling Eyes
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Jon
Foraging Bee


Joined: 07 Apr 2009
Posts: 172
Location: N Ireland

PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used MAQS strips this year on about 10 colonies and followed the instructions. I lost a couple of queens and in some colonies it seemed to induce supersedure right away.
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you keep the entrances wide open?

The beekeeper association in Germany recommended to place the strips far away from the brood in the upper brood chamber, not as per instructions in between the two brood chambers. That seemed to help reducing the queen and brood killing.
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Jon
Foraging Bee


Joined: 07 Apr 2009
Posts: 172
Location: N Ireland

PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My colonies occupy a single brood chamber not a double and I put an empty brood box or empty super above each to allow for extra ventilation. I read the reports of possible queen losses beforehand and took all the steps I could to minimize the risk. A lot of other beekeepers I know also reported queen losses, experienced beekeepers not beginners. MAQS is effective at killing phoretic mites and mites under cappings in a short space of time but that has to be balanced with the possible loss of queens. I definitely would not risk this treatment with important queens earmarked as breeders.
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madasafish
Silver Bee


Joined: 29 Apr 2009
Posts: 880
Location: Stoke On Trent

PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am emphatically not a "no treatment" beekeeper but my attitude to new treatments like MAQs is to wait 3 years until others find out all the problems.

I have a similar attitude to new technology..
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CeeBee
Foraging Bee


Joined: 16 Jun 2013
Posts: 104
Location: UK, Cambridge, Milton

PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I expect I already said elsewhere, but I treated my two hTBH with MAQS formic acid strips in August 2014 - no queen-loss, or any other problems, and lots of Varroa drop after the 1-week treatment. Not much of a scientific sample, but so far, so good.

I had to invent a method to apply the strips in a hTBH: hung them (two strips per hive) between combs (after making about 10mm extra space) in holders made of garden mesh. Intend doing photos on my website - just need to get round to it...

Could the perceived problem be the old story with e.g. items on the web - the majority of people who bother to say anything are those with some kind of problem?
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ingo50
Scout Bee


Joined: 30 May 2014
Posts: 311
Location: Newport, Gwent, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with madasafish, usually wise to wait and see with any new 'miracle, instant cures'. There need to be good, reproducible scientific research studies with both short and long-term outcomes preferably under natural field conditions and not only based on short term lab testing as performed by the Agrochemical industry. Too many costly mistakes have been made this way.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CeeBee I'm sure formic acid doesn't spread the same way in a hTBH as in a vertical hive. In tbh the strip is only between 2 combs without all the bee space all over. I would say the queen could much easier "escape" the fumes in a hTBH.

I will most definitely stay away from it. Treatments cause too much damage to the hive biome anyway.

Another thing I read in the same article is that bees will for sure die in the following winter if not treated, and that untreated bees will re-infect all other apiaries in the area Rolling Eyes The author has not linked to any scientific research about this, since there is none I would say.

I mean how can my Drones re-infect their colonies when my colonies evict them end of July? They treat in August.
They say my bees will "drift" into their hives which are 1-2km away Rolling Eyes That is too far away for drifting to occur.
Let's say this is true and a few of my bees drift into their hives. So let's say 20 drift. Honestly now, how many of those 20 would carry mites?

Then they say my bees will spread varroa through robbing. Ok this is possible if they have weak families and even if the bees will fight and we know that Varroa is very fragile. I'm sure many Varroa will get damaged in the robbing/fighting frenzy.

Then they treat in December with Oxalic drip method so even if a few varroa came into their hives after the August treatment the Oxalic will sure knock them off.

All in all, drifting is very likely effecting hives in my own apiary where bees from one hive easily can drift into the neighbour hive. Here I see the correlation with re-infecting with varroa.

It seems that no matter how much they treat or with what, varroa still survives. The way I see it is that those who treat are breeding weak bees and stronger mites. I don't mind that but I do mind when they are trying to spread myths!
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Jon
Foraging Bee


Joined: 07 Apr 2009
Posts: 172
Location: N Ireland

PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che. There was a study published last year or the year before which showed that mites easily got into colonies a couple of kilometers away. It was set up on army training land in the UK. Colonies with a fixed number of mites were introduced to an area with mite free colonies and mite counts were taken some months later. There was highly significant mite transfer. I don't have the reference handy. Someone else might post it.

Re. the MAQS, I trialled it on a few of my colonies, not all of them. I did that in the knowledge that I had a lot of spare queens and I was able to sort out queen losses immediately. I think I will revert to Madasafish's stance and sit back and wait for a year or two.
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madasafish
Silver Bee


Joined: 29 Apr 2009
Posts: 880
Location: Stoke On Trent

PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will add that many users of chemical treatments seem incapable of either reading instructions or IF they have read them, following them..

(Which is rather like many drivers of cars, users of microwaves, computers etc)
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Jon
Foraging Bee


Joined: 07 Apr 2009
Posts: 172
Location: N Ireland

PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my case I was wary beforehand and very careful with the application and it still did not work out as planned. One suggestion I have read is that it was trialled on large colonies of Ligustica and bees locally generally make far smaller colonies. There is a warning on the label which says it should not be used on nucs or colonies under 6 frames of bees which suggests that the manufacturer is aware of some issues.
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