Reduce the Use of Pesticides in Your Apiary


Honey bee with varroa miteThis honey bee has a varroa mite on her thorax (photo by Derek Allnutt). Varroa mites can carry viruses that enter the bee's body  through puncture wounds. There are more than 20  honey bee viruses of which  deformed wing virus is the most common.  Untreated colonies will die within two years. It is really important to keep varroa mite levels under control. Here is a good strategy to reduce the use of pesticides in your apiary.


Integrated Pest Management Strategy
(recommendations from CAPA Honey Bee Diseases and Pests book Version 3, Chapter 12 IPM by Heather Clay)
Colony management has become more complicated since the arrival of new diseases and pests. Fifty years ago, there was little need for chemical intervention. Today the top four diseases and pests (Varroa mites, Tracheal mites, American foulbrood (AFB) and Nosema) require a different course of control for each species. Over time, it has become clear that synthetic chemical control is the least desirable option. Concern about disease and pest resistance to the chemical treatment, potential for chemical residues in honey, the likelihood of environmental damage and growing consumer awareness of health issues related to pesticides and antibiotics, are good reasons to reduce the use of synthetic chemicals in apiary management. Beekeepers are seeking new ways of managing colonies using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy.


What is Integrated Pest Management
IPM is not a new concept. It was developed in the 1950's in response to escalating disease and pest resistance to chemical control products. As chemical resistance increased, the quantity of chemicals needed for control increased, resulting in higher costs and greater environmental damage. 

An IPM plan helps reduce the problem of disease and pest resistance to control chemicals by
using non chemical measures such as cultural (beekeeper activity), physical (mechanical), or biological (biopesticide) controls, limiting the frequency and dosage of control chemicals,
alternating synthetic chemical control products that have a different mode of action.


Here is a suggested IPM plan for controlling varroa mite