For today's beekeeper Varroa mites are a leading cause of honey bee colony death, because of this the beekeeper must determine how he or she wishes to manage the varroa mite problem they will eventually encounter. Among the many options available Oxalic Acid Vaporization is one of the best choices. It is easily administered, taking about 30 seconds per hive, organic, does not build up in the wax, and is EPA approved. In Canada and Europe, Oxalic Acid has been in use far longer than in the U.S. and has become one of their go to treatments for controlling varroa mites.
To help U.S. beekeepers take full advantage of the benefits of Oxalic Acid known and experienced by Canadian and European beekeepers the MK 350 Terminator was developed. Built in the USA using high quality engineered plastics, aluminum, and solid state electronics, the MK 350 Terminator was designed to withstand years of abuse while effectively controlling and terminating any varroa mites present in your hives. After its initial warm up cycle of 4 minutes the MK 350 can treat subsequent hives in less than 30 seconds.
In order to provide for a high degree of operator safety all major electrical components and connections are housed inside the MK 350's plastic housing to prevent inadvertent electrical shock and component damage from exposure to water.
As with the rest of the world there are virtually no hives without the presence of mites anymore in the U.S. only varying degrees of infestation. In order to effectively treat for varroa mites the beekeeper must determine the level of mites that may be present in hives, to do this beekeepers primarily use one of three methods.
Mite Monitoring Boards: Probably the easiest way to determine a hives mite load, these Coroplast® boards (corrugated plastic cardboard) are simply inserted into the hive on top of the bottom board after being "lightly" coated with cooking spray or petroleum jelly. Then three days later the board is removed and the mites counted, the total count is divided by 3 to obtain an average daily mite drop (boards with a grid do make counting easier). Currently it is thought that anytime time your average daily mite drop exceeds a range of 5 to 10 mites, treatment should be undertaken. Mite drop boards can be purchased from most any bee supply house. To make your own, simply harvest some of the ever present campaign signs or purchase Coroplast sheets at a Walmart, Lowes or your favorite big box store. Once obtained, cut to size, apply a grid, and insert into a hive.
Though this is the easiest way to determine a hive's level of varroa mite infestation it is also the least accurate.
Sugar Shake (Roll): Fairly accurate in determining a mite count per 100 bees, its main attraction is that it doesn't harm the bee used in the testing sample.
To use, first locate the queen, then collect a queen free 1/2 cup of bees from the center of the brood box, place these bee in a quart mason jar and cover with a #8 wire screen lid insert and secure with the lid ring. (a 1/2 cup of bees contains approximately 300 bee, the target sample size for this test). To this jar of bees add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, cover the screen with your hand or rag and shake for a good minute or 2. Do not shake the test subjects so vigorously that you kill them, your only trying to coat them well with sugar. The sugar coating interferes with the mite's ability to stay attached to the bee, dropping off so they can be counted. Once shaken, dump/shake the powdered sugar onto a suitable white counting surface. Carefully spread the sugar out and then count the mites (small dark spots in the sugar present in the sugar. Divide the total mite count by 3 to obtain a varroa mite count per 100 bees. Finally return the shaken but live bees to the hive.
Current thought is a mite count exceeding 3 to 4 mites per 100 bees warrants treatment.
Alcohol Wash: This is the most accurate method of determining a hive's mite count per 100 bees, however the bees tested will be killed by the alcohol.
As with the sugar shake, first locate the queen, then collect a queen free 1/2 cup of bees from the center of the brood box, place these bee in a quart mason jar and cover with a #8 wire screen lid insert and secure with the lid ring. (a 1/2 cup of bees contains approximately 300 bee, the target sample size for this test). To this jar of bees enough rubbing alcohol to cover the bees. Cover the screen with your hand or rag and agitate for a good minute or 2, being careful to not slosh out any alcohol. The rubbing alcohol kills both the bees and mites and the agitating causes the mite to drop off so they can be counted. Once processed pour the jar contents through a course screen into a suitable container to capture the alcohol and mites, rinse the bees a couple more times to ensure all the mites have been captured. Once rinsing is complete count the mites (small dark spots) in the bottom of the liquid capture container. Divide the total mite count by 3 to obtain a varroa mite count per 100 bees. Finally dispose of the dead bees and pour off the alcohol into a suitable container for reuse.
Current thought is a mite count exceeding 3 to 4 mites per 100 bees warrants treatment.
Failure to effectively treat will most certainly result in the loss of the infected colony(s). Mites latch themselves onto bees while they’re in their larval stage After nesting in brood chambers alongside growing bee pupae, varroa mites hatch and pierce through the abdomen of larval, pupa and adult bees to feast on a tissue called “fatty tissue,” which helps control the bee’s immune system. This weakens the bees and leaves them highly susceptible to crippling diseases like Deformed Wing Virus.
This is especially bad for overwintering colonies. Bees are at their weakest in the winter – their numbers are low, their lifespans are being stretched, and they’re putting all their energy into keeping warm and fed. Any disease resulting from mites could push them over the brink, and most colony death from mites occurs during winter.
The most readily visible disease contracted from varroa mites is that of Deformed Wing Virus (DWV). Deformed wing virus is suspected of causing the wing and abdominal deformities often found on adult honeybees in colonies infested with varroa mites. These symptoms include damaged appendages, particularly stubby, useless wings, shortened, rounded abdomens, miscoloring and paralysis of the legs and wings. Symptomatic bees have severely reduced life-span (less than 48 hours usually) and are typically expelled from the hive.
Oxalic Acid Vaporization is over 96% effective (without brood)
Oxalic acid naturally occurs in plants and is considered an “organic” treatment
Unlike other oxalic acid methods, repeat treatments can be given without damaging bees
Do not have to open or disturb hive
No known negative effects on bees or brood
Because the mode of action is believed to be physical, mites are far less likely to be able to develop resistance
Repeat treatments can be done whenever varroa mites need to be “knocked back”
1 gram per 8 or 10 frame deep or medium 1 box brood chamber
2 grams per 8 or 10 frame deep or medium 2 box brood chamber
1/2 gram per 5 or 6 frame Nuc 1 box brood chamber
1 gram per 5 or 6 frame nuc 2 box brood chamber
1/2 gram of oxalic acid is equivalent to 1/8 teaspoon
1 gram of oxalic acid is equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon
2 grams of oxalic acid is equivalent to 1/2 teaspoon
1 treatment during peak broodless period (mid December to mid January, may vary depending on exact geographic location)
All Other Times
1 treatment administered every 5 to 6 days for a total of 3 treatments
1 treatment administered every 7 days for a total of 4 treatments
Fall Treatment Note
Treat after the the fall honey harvest/final nectar flow so that the production of winter bees will happen at a very low varroa mite level.
Spring treatment note
European research indicates that when brood is present, vaporization three to four times at weekly intervals in Spring is an effective Varroa control.
The exact treatment program used needs to be monitored and adjusted by the beekeeper based on the results observed during a treatment period.
Go to our OA INFO page for detailed information on frequency calculations.
I have used it twice. Much better than using the tray type of vaporizer. Thanks Much.
Gary Thomson, IL
The vaporizer works amazing!!! It's a game changer for me considering I have over 20 hives and I've been using one of the wand type vaporizers which took FOREVER, and the bees were wayyyyy more upset with the wand than they are with your vaporizer. I also like the AR grip on your vaporizer!!! Lol. It's a nice touch!!! Thank you for a wonderful time saving and hopefully HIVE SAVING product!!!
Kenny Magnolia, KY
A friend purchased this item for me, which works well, by the way.
Anyway, I lost the sheet that comes with it. Can you send me a copy?
Keith Location currently unknown
First, I love your MK350. Thank you.
I now have a hive where there is no electricity………
Ralph Astoria, NY