Oxalic Acid for Varroa

Discussion in 'Organic Beekeeping' started by Bitty Bee, Jul 23, 2010.

  1. Bitty Bee

    Bitty Bee New Member

    Messages:
    347
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I recently attended a speech presented by Michael and Kirsten Traynor on the topic of Organic Varroa control. One of their treatment methods involved using oxalic acid on the winter cluster to kill the mites.

    I was wondering if anyone here has experience using this or opinions about it? Also, does anybody know how it kills the mites? They didn't have enough time to expound on this method and I am still very curious as to how it works and the pro's and con's of using it.
     
  2. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    gas or dribble?

    I would think either might be considered a non insecticide treatment. I am not certain I would classify these application of an acid wash organic????
     

  3. Bitty Bee

    Bitty Bee New Member

    Messages:
    347
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Dribble.
    They said that it classifies as organic because oxalic acid is a component which exists naturally in several different fruits and vegetables, like folic acid. It's also a natural component of honey and honeycomb.

    Here's the recipe they said to use:
    mix-35g oxalic acid
    100ml warm water
    set aside.
    mix- 200g sugar
    200ml warm water
    combine the two then dribble over the cluster in between the top of the frames (don't remove the frames) so that as it rolls down the bees, they will pass it around while they groom themselves. Apply this at a time when there is no brood and the temperature is just cold enough for them to cluster but warm enough to open the top and inner covers.

    They said that you can do this any time of the year, even during a honey flow, and still be able to eat your honey and use your wax. Only, at that time it wouldn't be very effective because oxalic acid doesn't penetrate the wax or brood. Which is where the majority of the varroa would be.
    They do this along with the usual methods of fighting varroa ( cutting drone comb, recycling old comb, etc.) not by itself.

    Mr. Traynor all but swears by it and says he does this on his hives every winter. He also said that he has his state inspector come do a mite count and that the inspector never found one until this past year.
     
  4. Mama Beek

    Mama Beek New Member

    Messages:
    1,053
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    hmmm, I missed that presentation and wish I had known it was there so I could have heard what they were saying.

    Baby has shared with us what she was able to glean from it, but with it being something we are totally not familiar with I asked her to make sure and ask the knowledgeable folks here for more info. I can't wait to see what you can share on this subject. I realize that lots of people have decided to stand firm on the no treatment/raise survivor bees trend, but we still consider our options and are open to finding better ways to do things all the time.
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    my understanding of the oxylic dribble is that you greatly increase the likelyhood that the queen will fail shortly after application. I have never used this method myself but if I did I would make certain I did this and would time the procedure so queen replacement would be at least possible.

    I have used oxylic vapor in the past and would have no hesitation in doing so again. you do need to make absolutely certain you have the proper safety gear to use this product since the gas is extremely hazardous to not only mites but also beekeepers.

    perhaps a bit of explanation is required given Mama Beek's comments. Although I do follow the general regiment of non intervention in regards to varroa and have never place anything that looks like an insecticide strip (either factory or beekeeper made) into one of my hives I see nothing wrong in utilizing acid wash to temporarily limiting the epidemic explosion of a pest in my hives. unlike an insecticide the varroa are quite unlikely to build tolerance to an acid wash (ie you ain't helping breed a bigger and badder varroa) and there is no evidence oxylic will build up in the wax or honey product of the hives (oxylic naturally occurs in both at some low level). When I do notice a hive where varroa has become a serious problem (now generally rare and quite typically at this time of year) I simple mark the hive and apply vaporized oxylic to knock back the level of varroa infestation. These hives are then utilized (top to bottom) for splits come the next season (generally spring) and I kill the queen. I use much the same 'strategy' for hives who's disposition (defensive nature) is a bit more than I wish to tolerate.
     
  6. cow pollinater

    cow pollinater New Member

    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The problem with treating bees in the winter cluster is that it's to late to have healthy forager bees for early spring when you need them most to get you off to a good start (at least in my area). If you're going to treat then do it with something you can use now so that the bees can go into winter healthy.
    Everything that you put into a hive will affect the bees in some way and it's most likely going to be negative. I tried formic acid in early spring to slow down mite build-up because it was suposed to be so gentle on the bees and had a few small swarms and tons of queenless hives... Aparently the bees forgot to read the advertisement that I read.
    I've since decided that when I see one going downhill with mites I'm going to split it up and give the parts(without queen)to healthy hives that I will split at some point in the near future.
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    cow pollinator snip;
    I've since decided that when I see one going downhill with mites I'm going to split it up and give the parts(without queen)to healthy hives that I will split at some point in the near future.

    tecumseh:
    I have never really noticed any serious side effects from oxylic vapor. I do like to look 4 or 5 days after treatment just to check. after administering oxylic to knock down mite numbers somewhat (generally in late summer or early fall) I do just as your above snip suggest.
     
  8. fatbeeman

    fatbeeman New Member

    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I teach my students to use OA but we never dribble it will kill off your brood.the vaporizer will not harm bees. it could be used with honey on or during brood cycle. it leaves no taste to honey and is safe, if you decide to go with it. fogging is another way no brood kill no honey contamination.
    hope this helps
    Don
    more info on podcast
    www.somdbeekeeper.com

    :goodpost: :yahoo:
     
  9. Mama Beek

    Mama Beek New Member

    Messages:
    1,053
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks Don. OA is still something we are trying to learn more about.
     
  10. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

    Messages:
    5,829
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have a vapourizor and have used it as well. I was taught to use it as a "finisher", something you would use after your initial treatment (formic, etc.), the one used early in the fall to save your "winter bees". Curiously, I was told not to use it with honey supers on the hive, even though as stated, it does exist naturally in many other forms.
     
  11. fatbeeman

    fatbeeman New Member

    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    using the vaporizer just about any time seems not to be harm full to bees I do much research on different forms of treatments. all research comes out of my own pocket.that being said. no grants or gov. money.
    what I do and release is non bias. hope this helps.
    Don

    :drinks:
     
  12. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

    Messages:
    3,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    From what I've read in the above posts, I assume that those who use Oxalic Acid in the hives buy the acid as crystals.
    Does anyone have any experience with extracting OA from plants? I have three species of Oxalis growing in my garden, two of them are weeds. Do you think it could be useful to boil them up and make an extraction for spraying in the hive?
     
  13. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    yes ef the oxalic I used sometime back was in the form of crystals and about 96% pure.
     
  14. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

    Messages:
    5,829
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Here is all I can offer inthe way of help. Perhaps a "tea" dribbled on the bees? Sorry for the blurry pics, the camera doesn't do close-ups well.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  15. drobbins

    drobbins New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I use OA very sparingly at Christmas each year as my only preventative mite measure
    Here are some pics of my homemade evaporator

    http://drobbins.net/bees/oa_evaporator/

    never tried the dribble

    Dave
     
  16. Omie

    Omie New Member

    Messages:
    2,845
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Just my own (and definitely biased) opinion, but I get peeved when people promote formic acid and oxalic acid mite treatments as 'organic'. Just because a chemical occurs in nature or even in honey or wax, doesn't mean it's also 'natural' or 'organic' to apply a concentrated solution of it on your bees that is 10,000 times stronger.... strong enough to kill or damage mites, bee brood, sometimes queens and workers, and strong enough to require us to wear masks and gloves to protect ourselves as well when handling it.

    I have nothing against people using and liking that formic and ox. acids occur in nature and feel they are less residually harmful to use than 'hard' pesticides for example. More power to them, everyone should keep bees as they like! But I do not think these treatments should be promoted as 'organic' or 'natural' when they are used in unnaturally strong concentrations that are most definitely not found in nature.
    You can eat a whole handful of ants (which contain formic acid) and not get sick. But eat a mite-away-quick-strip and you'll wind up in the hospital, 'organic and natural' or no. They are not exactly the same thing, and people keep comparing them as if they were equally harmless and natural, is all I'm saying.
     
  17. Marbees

    Marbees Member

    Messages:
    983
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Omie said:
    I have nothing against people using and liking that formic and ox. acids occur in nature and feel they are less residually harmful to use than 'hard' pesticides for example.

    Omie, it has nothing to do with the feeling, those are facts confirmed in labs and apiaries all over the world.I wouldn't ignore 30 years of experience of Spanish/German/Swiss/Italian... scientist and beekeepers fighting varoa, and comparing effectiveness of these organic treatments vs hard treatments. Not "hard".
    We all read about residual damages of honey and wax from some hard treatments used in past, and never from using formic or oxalic acids.
    Interesting fact (confirmed by several non related scientific institutions) is that honey from colonies treated with oxalic acid has lower percentage of oxalic acid than honey from colonies that didn't receive the treatment.
    Oxalic acid, being cheaper than water, for sure has nobody lobbying for it.:smile:
     
  18. Omie

    Omie New Member

    Messages:
    2,845
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Marbess, I hear you.
    Certainly if I was forced to choose between using a hard miticide and formic acid on my hives, I'd choose formic acid for the reasons you talk about.
    But my first choice is to not use any treatment at all.
    Just because we don't read about it now doesn't mean we never will. Scientific studies and evidence are proven faulty and incomplete every single day. As a personal policy, I prefer to allow the bees adapt to living with mites, and I try to help them along by manipulations such as splitting, brood lapse time, open screen bottoms, requeening, drone culling, etc., rather than by applying chemicals to kill mites- 'organic' or not. I simply don't want to apply any kind of miticide chemical. But I defend everyone else's right to do whatever they want about mites! :smile:
     
  19. Marbees

    Marbees Member

    Messages:
    983
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Omie, I hear you too :smile:
    I am also believer of bees "learning" to live with mites, so culling drone brood (built 60 frames Randy Oliver style), screen bottoms, ventilated boxes/inner covers, splitting, requeening with hygienic queens are all parts of my beekeeping adventure.
    Also, no preventative treatments in my hives. I was told I'm gambling too much not using antibiotics in my hives. Maybe I am, but I like to eat my honey, so I have no choice:razz:


    I know we read about scientific and not so scientific (taliban) methods being proven faulty on daily basis.
    However, if there was a slight chance of oxalic acid being proved faulty during last 30 years, there are companies who would pay big money to have it published.
     
  20. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I kind of think the 'organic' thingee has been a bit overplayed. Everyone seems to stretch the definition of this way beyond any reasonable measure. Often individual definitions of this word sound hollow and self serving (vs some kind of real and meaningfull content to the definition itself).

    for myself... whether organic or not organic I myself prefer a product that 1) doesn't eventually build a bigger and badder pest and 2) does not contaminate honey and wax.

    for myself... I can see strategically that there are times when using some fairly inert material to knock the mite population down would make much more sense than being purely hands off in dealing with this problem. in some years during the off season I play around or experiment in implementing these ideas although by and large I am treatmentless in regards to using anything.