Honey bee populations have suffered catastrophic losses within the last few years, predominantly because of Varroa mite infestations, thereby affecting pollination, survival of the bees, and overall success of beekeepers. This SARE project investigated the use of food grade mineral oil (FGMO) and thymol (a natural plant extract) in the form of a fog as a natural and economic alternative to pesticide use for the control of Varroa mites within honey bee colonies.
Bee-mus Honey researched fifteen bee hives (ten experimental and five control) for the efficacy and specific application techniques of FGMO/thymol fog to determine its value and success as a preventative control for Varroa mites. The experimental hives were fogged weekly using a very specific formula of FGMO and thymol. Fogging occurred during the months of May and October for a three-year period (2008-2010). All hives were installed with sticky boards immediately before fog treatment and left in place for twenty-four hours. Varroa mites were then counted and recorded.
Research results from this SARE project clearly demonstrate the overall effectiveness and sustainability of FGMO/thymol fog for the control of Varroa mites on honey bee colonies. Experimental hives that were fogged had an overall lower mite count, produced more honey, over wintered better, and were generally more robust and stronger than control colonies that were stressed by a higher mite infestation. Because of the adverse effects (and added expense) of chemicals on honey bees (and the environment), and developing resistance of Varroa mites to these chemicals, beekeepers need to consider a more natural, cost-effective and sustainable method of mite control. Because of the proven success of this SARE project, Bee-mus Honey will continue to use FGMO/thymol fog as our chosen method of hive treatment on Varroa mites.