Comparison of release mechanisms for botanical oils to control Varroa destructor (Acari: Varroidae) and Acarapis woodi (acari: Tarsonemidae) in colonies of honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae).

Abstract

Two major parasitic pests threaten honey bee populations, the external mite Varroa destructor and the internal mite Acarapis woodi (Rennie). Varroa are beginning to develop resistance to the main chemical defense fluvalinate, and alternative control methods are being pursued. Previous studies have shown that botanical oils, especially thymol, can be effective. Six release devices for either thymol or a blend of botanical oils known as Magic 3 were tested in beehives. The release devices were as follows: (1) low density polyethylene (LDPE) sleeves filled with Magic 3, (2) Magic 3-infused florist blocks, (3) thymol infused florist blocks, (4) a canola oil and thymol mixture wick release, (5) a plastic strip coated with calcium carbonate and Magic 3, and (6) an untreated control. There were significant decreases in varroa levels with the use of Magic 3 sleeves, but brood levels also decreased. Tracheal mite levels significantly decreased with the Magic 3 sleeve treatment, the Magic 3 florist block treatment, and the thymol canola wick treatment. A second experiment showed that changing the location of Magic 3 sleeves in the colony did not detrimentally effect brood levels, but also did not effectively control varroa mites.

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