Report for FS04-180
Honeybees are vital to agriculture and the Varroa mite is killing them. The production of many southern agricultural crops are dependent on honeybees for pollination. Chemical treatment protocols used to control the mite are becoming less effective since mites have become resistant to these treatments. And due to the residual chemicals in the honey, United States honey has been banned from import by the European Union. A sustainable alternative way of controlling Varoa mites is needed. This project’s goal is to test the efficacy of a Varroa mite control system in a rigorously controlled procedure. They will test the precise application of food-grade mineral oil within the hive, and the use of an open bottom (screened) hive of simple design. The application of mineral oil in a well-defined procedure will create a chemically free hive environment to which Varroa mites cannot build a resistance and will simultaneously reduce mite populations to a sustainable level. A minute trace of mineral oil contacting the mites appears to inhibit their ability to attach themselves to the bees. When the mites attempt to move to another bee host (as a part of their reproductive cycle) and cannot attach themselves to that host, they fall through and out of the hive through the screened bottom board. Controlling mite populations in this manner will increase the viability of the bee colony and simultaneously reduce costs to the beekeeper. This method will be applied to test hives and directly compared to control hives. They will measure and record the number of mites, bees, and hive production against control hives on a regular basis and directly evaluate the improvement, efficacy, efficiency and viability of the new treatment. Rather than attempt to totally eradicate the Varroa mite, they will evaluate if a reduction in the mite population can be obtained to a level below which the honey bee hive is demonstrably sustainable, vibrant and viable.