Will Nozevit make a difference in the health of a honeybee colony?

Final Report for FNE14-794

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2014: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Craig Cella
Craig A. Cella
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Project Information

Summary:

The object of this project was to determine if the product “Nozevit” made a difference in a honey bee colony’s health and production.   “Nozevit” is made up of all natural plant polyphenols, phylonutrients, complete amino acids, vitamins and minerals.

One hundred and ten colonies were established from 3 lb. package bees and divided into a control group and treatment group. Samples were collected and sent to U.S.D.A. two different times to measure the levels of nosema. All hives were treated for Varroa mites. Colonies were inspected in August and September for virus levels by counting empty cells in a 2 cell x 20 cell block of good sealed brood.

Each hive was treated every four days for a total of four treatments with a mixture of 1/2 cup Nozevit per 5 gallon of 1:1 sugar syrup applied as a dribble or drench on the top bars of the frames.  Each colony received 1 cup of mixture by slowly pouring it along the length of the top bar.

The cost of treatment will vary with the price of sugar, the time and distance to the outyards.  The price of a 1 liter bottle of Nozevit is $275.00.  In my case the cost of the mixture amounted to $2.46 per treated hive plus the time – 20 hours x 4 =80 hours and 270 miles each time at $.55 = $148.50 x 4 = $594.00. 

In summary total hive weight in the control group was 92.60 lbs. per hive and in the treatment group it was 95.50 lbs (3% increase). Nosema counts went from 1.93 million down to .67 million in the control group (65% drop) and 1.22 million down to .78 million (36 % drop) in the treatment group by mid July. At this point I do not think it is cost effective to use Nozevit.

 

Introduction:

I grew up on a small farm in northern New Jersey that sold produce in season to the local community. We also raised milk goats and chickens for the same market. I decided the addition of honey bees would fit into the rest of the farm operation in 1957 and my parents encouraged the venture and I've been trying to improve my bee keeping skills ever since.

Now we have a little over 100 acres of ground and 200 beehives in Loganton, Pa. Used for honey, produce, hay, pasture and corn production. We have also planted over 3,000 Black Locust trees, thousands of sumac plants and acres of nectar producing plants for the honeybees. I have also developed several different pieces of equipment for the honeybee part of the farm including honey warmers, beeswax melter, queen holders, bear fencing and individual hive heaters for winter.

My technical advisor was Maryann Frazier – Senior Extension Associate at Penn State University who has been involved with honeybees most of her life and during the last decade has been involved with research on the honeybee and pesticide relationship. Maryann and I agree that there are products on the market for honeybee health that have not been tested to see if they make a difference to a colony.

The purpose of this project was to test one of these products called Nozevit and to see if it was a good investment for a beekeeper to make. I have used it several times and the hives did well but I did not have a control group so I didn't really learn anything, however, this year I did have a control group. Nozevit is very expensive and if it made a difference it is worth the price, however, if it didn't beekeepers are throwing their money away.

 

Project Objectives:

Each month I receive two bee keeping publications that contain advertisements for products to help improve the health of a honeybee colony and the catalogs from the supply companies also contain listings of these.

I can not test all of them. I wanted to do one this year as a step in the right direction. I was expecting to see a significant difference between the control group and the treatment group to justify the cost of the product and labor.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Mary Ann Frazier

Research

Materials and methods:

This study involved 100 colonies with 50 in the control group and 50 in the treatment group. I number all of the hives with the even numbers serving as the control group and odd numbers for my treatment group. Three pound package bees with a marked queen were installed on new equipment in 8 yards that were spread out over 150 miles to get the “big picture”. Samples were collected from the hives and sent into the Bee Research Laboratory at Beltsville, Md. in April and July to be screened for nosema spore counts. Mite levels were measured by the “sugar-roll” method and recorded in May and Aug. and treated with Mite Away Quick strips. Hives in the treatment group were also treated with

Nozevit in May and Aug. according to the producers recommendations: That is every four days for a total of four times. All of the hives were protected by a bear fence system used by P.S.U. All hives were weighed in early Oct. to determine production and the cost efficiency of using Nozevit.

“Nozevit” is made up of all natural plant polyphenols, phylonutrients, complete amino acids, vitamins and minerals.

One hundred and ten colonies were established from 3 lb. package bees and divided into a control group and treatment group. Samples were collected and sent to U.S.D.A. two different times to measure the levels of nosema. All hives were treated for Varroa mites. Colonies were inspected in August and September for virus levels by counting empty cells in a 2 cell x 20 cell block of good sealed brood.

Each hive was treated every four days for a total of four treatments with a mixture of 1/2 cup Nozevit per 5 gallon of 1:1 sugar syrup applied as a dribble or drench on the top bars of the frames.  Each colony received 1 cup of mixture by slowly pouring it along the length of the top bar.

The cost of treatment will vary with the price of sugar, the time and distance to the outyards.  The price of a 1 liter bottle of Nozevit is $275.00.  In my case the cost of the mixture amounted to $2.46 per treated hive plus the time - 20 hours x 4 =80 hours and 270 miles each time at $.55 = $148.50 x 4 = $594.00. 

In the original grant I was going to mark out a four hundred cell block of sealed brood and count the empty cells as an indication of a virus problem. This is a method I have used for several years on hundred of hives but it was not to be this year. On June 30, 2014 David from SARE was in the area and he inspected one of the yards located near P.S.U. in the afternoon. They looked good and had some honey stored to the point they wouldn't need any attention until I started counting out the empty cells in Aug. What a disappointment when I went to the same yard near P.S.U. on Aug. 11. There was not enough honey between all twelve hives to fill a baby food jar, most hives had no open brood and the sealed brood was very spotty. The next evening my son and I moved all the hives from there back to home and started feeding to save them from starvation. All the other locations had cut way back on brood production so I wasn't able to do the cell count. One week after I started feeding they had lots of young brood developing and started building back up. These hives were removed from the study.

This year proved how important it is to have several locations to have a more accurate picture. If I had just had a few locations in a small area it would have been a real disappointment where as some of the yards (Clearfield and Jefferson counties) did fairly well. For some reason the plants didn't produce nectar. I moved bees to Sallasdasburg on Sept. 1 into an area with over a thousand acres of a tremendous stand of goldenrod. I just knew they would do well – the bloom was tremendous and the weather was great but when I went back on Oct 1 they had nothing in the honey supers, I mean nothing. The only work I did was to remove the empty honey supers and put them away in winter storage.

All of the hives were brought back to Loganton the first week in Oct. and then four people working as a team weighed them. One person worked as a recorder, another moved the scale and two lifted each hive onto and off of the scale with very little disturbance to the colony.

 

 

Research results and discussion:
Results

Sometimes when you do a research project you don't get the results you think you will. I had used Nozevit the last two years and thought it was a helpful product however I didn't have a control group and as Dennis VanEngelsdrop told me years ago “if you don't have a control group you haven't proven anything.” This year I had the control group and the results were disappointing.

The cost of treatment will vary with the price of sugar, the time and distance to the outyards.  The price of a 1 liter bottle of Nozevit is $275.00.  In my case the cost of the mixture amounted to $2.46 per treated hive plus the time - 20 hours x 4 =80 hours and 270 miles each time at $.55 = $148.50 x 4 = $594.00. 

Looking at the nozema spore count: for the control group – they went from 1.93 million on the first collection down to .67 million for the second collection (65 % drop) while the treatment group went from 1.22 million down to .78 million (36 % drop). I have had experts with nozema tell me there are no rules and just when you think you have answers something comes along and upsets your thinking so I don't really use this a concrete decision making finding. Mite levels were very low – 0 to 2 at the most – for inspections in both May and Aug.

What I do look at is total hive weight. This is my best measurement of colony health, very simple and true. If a colony is sick it will produce according to the degree of sickness.

The bottom line of this study is that there was only a 2.90 lb. difference in the average weight of all the hives between the control group and treatment group. These are total weight and not just surplus honey. It weighs the honey above the brood area, the honey in the brood box and the bees and brood creating a very complete picture. A 2.9 lb. difference is not important enough to justify the cost of the product let alone the time and labor involved so I do not plan to use it again. I would really like to see research like this done with other “bee health products” so beekeepers could make better decisions. It was a lot of work and money but I feel it was worth it and would like other people to test products being sold.

In summary total hive weight in the control group was 92.60 lbs. per hive and in the treatment group it was 95.50 lbs (3% increase). Nosema counts went from 1.93 million down to .67 million in the control group (65% drop) and 1.22 million down to .78 million (36 % drop) in the treatment group by mid July. At this point I do not think it is cost effective to use Nozevit.

Research conclusions:

Any time a person learns something, whther it is helpful to you or others or not it is always worth the effort. In this project I did not find any justification to spend the money, time and labor on using Nozevit. Perhaps other people may have different results but I would not buy it again or recommend it to any other beekeepers.

The question always comes to my mind: What other products are being sold to beekeepers to promote colony health that do nothing more than make the beekeepers feel like he is doing a good thing?

 

 

Participation Summary

Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

The results of this project are being published in the “American Bee Journal” and the Pa. State Beekeepers newsletter. I also have spoken at several beekeepers meetings including the Pa. State Beekeepers assoc, Western Pa. Beekeepers Seminar and county meetings throughout the area.

 

Project Outcomes

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Future Recommendations

I simply cannot encourage any beekeepers to use Nozevit as a way to make your hives more healthy and profitable. In my findings it was a waste of money, time and labor.

 

 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.