For over 10 years, honey bees in the United States have been experiencing unprecedented overwintering losses. In Wisconsin alone, beekeepers have reported losing, on average, over 50% of their hives each winter. There are a number of factors implicated in these declines including loss of flowering resources on the landscape, exposure to agrichemicals, and increases in parasites and pathogens within the hives. One parasite in particular, the Varroa mite, is especially damaging. This might not only compromises the bees’ immune system but also carries a host of pathogens that can infect the bees. Managing mite loads within the hive is essential if beekeepers want to keep their bees alive through the winter. Current control options, however, are either ineffective or undesirable due to the harsh chemicals required. Therefore, we propose to test a novel mite control method by dispensing Thymol, an herbal extract, to the bees through sugar syrup fed to the hives. We will compare mite loads, honey bee health (e.g., Nosema levels), and honey production in Thymol-treated hives to those in conventionally managed hives (i.e. treated with Amitraz).
Project objectives from proposal:
- Determine the efficacy of thymol dispensed in syrup as a mite treatment for honey bee hives as it relates to mite load, honey bee health (e.g., Nosema levels), and honey production in comparison to conventionally managed hives (i.e. treated with Amitraz).
- Assess the use of Thymol to preserve feed syrup.