Two honey bee pests that we have had problems with this year are varroa mites and small hive beetles. Varroa mites are parasitic mites that attach themselves to bees and small hive beetles are little beetles that live in a hive and eat the pollen, honey, and bee brood. We have mentioned both of these pests in this blog post.
Varroa mites are a major problem in a hive. Varroa mites can cause a lot of diseases in bees. Some of these diseases are Deformed Wing Virus (DWV), Kashmir Bee Virus (KBV), Acute Bee Paralysis Virus (ABPV), Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV), and sacbrood. It is important to treat for mites around August. There are many treatments out there, but some of them are ineffective because varroa mites have built up a resistance to them. Apiguard and Oxalic acid are two treatments that are still effective. Apiguard is what we ended up using to treat our hives. Apiguard is a product that has thymol in it. Apiguard is a gel that is put on top of the hive. The bees remove the gel and by removing it spread it around the hive. By doing this they kill some varroa mites. Oxalic acid is naturally found in rhubarb. Oxalic acid can either be vaporized directly into the hive or mixed with water then dripped onto the bees. A lot of Iowa beekeepers treat with one treatment in the fall then treat with oxalic acid in the winter.
Small hive beetles have not been a problem in Iowa for a long time. However, this year a lot more Iowan beekeepers have had problems with small hive beetles. Small hive beetles have been an indication of a weak hive. I am not sure that this is always true anymore because all of our hives had a large amount of small hive beetles in them. Small hive beetles can weaken a hive which is why it is important to try to kill them. We tried using hive beetle traps. Hive beetle traps are plastic containers that holds oil. The bees are supposed to chase the beetles into the trap. The beetles then drown. These traps did not work well for us. We also tried using Swiffer pads. We used dry, unscented pads. The beetles get trapped in the fibers and die. The pads worked for some of our hives, but not all of them.
As always the effectiveness of any treatment will vary from hive to hive and even more from location to location.