Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE03-485
This project investigated the possibility of using walnut leaf smoke as an alternative to chemical treatment of varroa mites in honey bees. Fifteen hives were divided into five groups, each group consisting of one hive treated with walnut leaf smoke, one treated with the common chemical treatment of apistan, and one untreated hive as a control. Weekly mites counts were collected for over six months in 2003, and again in the spring of 2004. Hives were also evaluated for overall strength, ability to survive the winter, and honey production.
Data was variable, but it appeared that walnut leaf smoke was effective in knocking the mites off the honeybees. Mite counts in walnut-smoke-treated hives were equal to or higher than the apistan treated and control hives. No clear trend from treatments was seen regarding the strength of the hives or winter survivability. Hives treated with walnut smoke did produce significantly more honey than apistan treated or control hives, although honey production was low for the season due to constant rain.
John believes that using walnut leaves for mite control can improve the economics of honey production by reducing costs and increasing honey production. The project has given him new ways to think about mite control, using an integrated approach by combining screened bottom boards, varroa resistant queens, and walnut leaf smoke.