Concerning Developments in Canada

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Alastair

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I do remember your oxalic trials @Alastair . If I recall, you had issues with them being too wet and essentially dripping? ie they weren't dried before use.

The only trials I reported on to the forum was using Phils staples, I supplied those details as I was hoping to get a useful response from Phil. As you know, Phils staples arrive pre soaked in a bucket. Most of them are drained and dried but the ones on the bottom are wet, and I used them wet. This was pounced on as the reason for the failures but it was not acknowledged that 80% of the Phils Staples I used were bone dry and every bit as problematic.

I am on record with others, saying when I come to try OA and strips then I'm going to follow @Otto 's protocol. You should be able to find his file in the Document section and I have passed his details on to a number of beekeepers.

Yes a very useful document and also linked in this forum. I have treated hundreds of hives using his exact protocol.

I will also say that I have inspected hundreds if not thousands of hives both hobby and commercial that had oxalic strips in use, and I don't think I have ever seen even one apiary using them that did not have the classic symptoms of damage by oxalic acid strips. Although there were certainly individual hives looking good.

I'm not going to say that such an apiary does not exist, I am constantly being told on the internet that they do. Just saying I've never seen one.

People are much more ready to report of success than they are of failure.
 
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maungaturoto
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I'm a hobbiest so I can't comment on the work involved with your scale @tristan . . . but without Bayvarol and relying on other treatments, what is your current hive loss to varroa or lack of alternative treatment for same?
pretty much zero.
getting a few sites wacked by reinvasion and afb, due to hive abandonment etc going on, but thats about it.
 
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maungaturoto
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I am just trying to point out that using it requires a shift in mentality. I don't think it is a treatment you can simply put in twice a year by the calendar and forget about. Dealing with Varroa long term is going to be a case of evolving how you do things as a beekeeper.
thats why i say its not as simple as just use other methods.
what did i just say .......
 
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I'll ignore your first point that I have missed the point for now🙂
Second point, I am not a hobby beekeeper and no, you don't do more treatments in one session than I do in 50 years.
Third point. If you have read some of Randy Oliver's article you should be aware that he calls what you're looking for the next silver bullet, and I agree with him that at this point in time we have nothing close to this sort of solution for Varroa. You need to adjust your expectations a little. Your current treatments don't work that well so why set the bar that high for an alternative?
Fourth point. The unfortunate reason commercial beekeepers don't tell you why their oxalic treatments didn't work is that they don't know why. That is the problem with doing a half-assed "experiment" and aborting it part way through. You cannot actually draw any valid conclusions from it.
Fifth point. "Something like chewing out strips early is a complete fail". Again, you're expectations are unrealistic. Every beehive is different and there are gross and subtle differences between how they will respond. That is why as a beekeeper you need to be prepared to not necessarily treat them all exactly the same. Does every beehive you have always get fed the exact same amount of sugar? Do you put the same number of boxes on every hive and do they all collect the same amount of honey? The only reason beekeepers have the expectation that they can do everything exactly the same with every hive when dealing with Varroa is that our first treatment options were quite close to Randy's silver bullet. Unfortunately, we no longer have that option.
Lastly. Your point on thymol. I have never used it so won't comment on its efficacy. Given your conclusions from your "trial" with oxalic acid strips I immediately have doubts how thorough your trial with thymol was. And if it was thorough, you have just done exactly what you lament from other beekeepers who won't tell you why their oxalic treatments didn't work. You have said you tried it and found issues. There is no information there that another beekeeper could use as a starting point or to make any decisions from.

sorry i didn't realize you now have 1000+ hives.

i'm not looking for silver bullet, i'm looking for something that works well enough.
if its got issues in trails then its only going to be worse out in the field in large scale. hence fix it in the trail stage.
we can't have outliers and cause reinfestation as that simply gives the mites a head start and we would be needing to constantly treat, which is not good for the bees or us.
i think randy oliver is on the right track with making it last longer.
with lower efficient treatments you really need to treat longer, or treat more often, than synthetics and treat enough brood cycles.

the thymol trail i have posted about many times over the years. main issues where highly variable results, not suitable for spring, contamination of the boxes/frames.
 
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maungaturoto
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We used over the years thymol, formic acid, oxalic acid, lactic acid all in different forms and variations, at the moment we're giving the cardboard strips soaked in OA a go in a few sites. So far they're working well. But I agree with you @tristan, it does take more skill than popping Apivar or Bayvarol in the hives, there's more factors to consider and more variations and it takes some commitment, it's the extra work and the uncertainty with OA on a commercial scale which can wear one down. But then, sticking with the same old doesn't seem to be the answer either, so fingers crossed it'll keep working for us.

so big part of this testing is sussing out the manufacture and also things like health and safety. how do you set the team up to handle acid covered products. how do you transport it, how do you dispose of the left overs. what other gear is required. how do you treat when its raining. what to do when things go wrong. can you work the hives safely while treatment is in the hive.
tons of non-bee stuff to go through.
 
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People are much more ready to report of success than they are of failure.
very much so.
my favorite being "it works great, we only lost half our hives" or "when it works its fantastic".

the handful i have treated so far are all running very well. but i have a few weak swarms to go try some things on. see if i can get some hives to fail.
 
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Most of them are drained and dried but the ones on the bottom are wet, and I used them wet. This was pounced on as the reason for the failures
I follow your good information pretty closely Alastair - please ccorrect if wrong but I seem to recall that you outed the wet strips yourself as being a potential cause, and others afgreed. 'Pounced' seems a little defensive but perhaps my memory has dimmed with time.
 
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I would say 'at risk of repeating myself' but then again, there's no risk because I definitely *am* repeating it - I firmly believe the use of oxalic acid strips would have been an ideal beekeeper-funded research project, had beekeepers not voted down the levy.
I don't think whether or not you voted for or against the Levy is part of this thread. I think the industry has to deal with the here and now
 
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sorry i didn't realize you now have 1000+ hives.

i'm not looking for silver bullet, i'm looking for something that works well enough.
Who cares how many hves you have Tristan, if you base your results off 1 or 2 hives?
I'm pretty crap at statistics but even I can tell you that.

You might have 1000 hives - but Otto has the healthy bees with solely oxalic acid use.
 

Alastair

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I follow your good information pretty closely Alastair - please ccorrect if wrong but I seem to recall that you outed the wet strips yourself as being a potential cause, and others afgreed.

Quite correct John i "outed" it myself, I've never been afraid to admit my failings when things don't work out. Especially in this case as I posted my failures and my thoughts on the reasons in hopes of eliciting some helpful responses.

'Pounced' seems a little defensive but perhaps my memory has dimmed with time.

Kinda seemed like pounced to me. The fact I used wet strips was laboured much, and the fact 80% + of the strips were not wet was not considered by the people I was looking to for answers. I was looking for useful answers to help me make this system work. The non Phil H strips I have used which are by far the majority have all been bone dry.
 

Alastair

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I would say 'at risk of repeating myself' but then again, there's no risk because I definitely *am* repeating it - I firmly believe the use of oxalic acid strips would have been an ideal beekeeper-funded research project, had beekeepers not voted down the levy.

Agree totally. Science costs and the NZ beekeeping industry does have some science going on but more would be better. Me anyhow no issues with an increased levy to help with that.

If a study of OA / GL strips was done and somehow funded it would be a massive benefit to the NZ industry. But my view anyway it should be geared to finding solutions. Not the type of study that would just place OA strips then later report the results.
 

Alastair

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Well since the thread seems to have devolved into a discussion of oxalic acid and there are some who have used it exclusively for more than a year with good results, can I ask if there is any beekeeper with more than say, 300 hives, who has used OA strips exclusively for more than a year with good results?
 

Mummzie

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The referred to thread about OA/GL was not an open and honest discussion. Anything less than positive about the method was closed down.

Why the system works for some & not others, the downsides of using it, the issues of scaling it for commercial use are all things that need to be shared, trying to keep away from personality clashes.
Sufficient data may well present some direction to successful use of the method, but that will require detailed answers and full context.

Alastairs question is a good start, except the qualifier of "with good results" . What is a good result? No varroa? No brood damage? Reduced cost?
Perhaps @Alastair - you could define what you intended to ask?

@Otto - would you be prepared to describe how your frames look? Do you have an area under the strip where there is no brood? If not, can you suggest what you do to prevent this?
-
 

Alastair

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Thanks for asking Mummzie, by good result the ideal would be a hive that performs just as well as a conventionally treated one.

Far as I know there is not much debate about whether the method kills mites, even in my bumbling attempts the mites were controlled very well. In fact mite numbers dropped faster in OA/GL treated hives than in Apivar treated hives. I asked for feedback from people with over 300 hives because I'm wondering if the close monitoring a person with fewer hives could do may be a factor and if so will this work in a commercial setting.

"good results" is probably a broad term but what I'd like to hear about is OA/GL treated sites with no dwindling hives or deadouts, or even better and beyond that, all hives pumping and looking like we like to see hives look. And making a good honey crop or performing whatever else it is we want them to do.
 
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I asked for feedback from people with over 300 hives because I'm wondering if the close monitoring a person with fewer hives could do may be a factor and if so will this work in a commercial setting.
Not exactly in the 300 plus category, but part of the year we are. Hope it adds to the discussion, but please take into account that this works for me here where I operate, but not necessarily everywhere, but have to emphasize that I do my beekeeping in a very crowded (hive density) area of the country.



I have been using OA/GL strips for a few years now and stick with it. I am not using only these strips, but do one Apivar treatment in autumn/winter time. In the active season I use the OA/GL strips. We use the Apivar in that time of the year because we have to, due to severe reinvasion pressure. In my view the OA/GL strips will not cope with that well in that time of year. For the OA/GL strips to work well, in my view, there needs to be activity in the hive, which is lacking in autumn/winter time, at least where I am. The Apivar comes out in June and after that no treatment till 2nd half of October. Normally put the OA/GL strips in end of October and again early January. I have learnt that that takes me to end of March to put Apivar in. This has worked for me quite well, that is not to say that I never see any damage due to varroa, but not more than working with synthetics only. Also our honey crop hasn’t suffered, which is very similar now to what it used to be when I treated only with synthetics (Bayvarol & Apivar).



What I use:

solid cardboard strips: 45cm long, 3 cm wide and 2mm thick and weigh about 18 grams before soaking. I admit, they are quite bulky and as I use only 8 FD frames (tight together), they are covering temporarily quite a bit of comb space (about 5% max at the time of inserting). Of course I don’t like that, but in the end what matters, is how the hive copes with that and my experience so far is that the performance of the hive is not affected noticeably. The strips being bulky means that it takes some time for the bees to “chew” them away. It takes at least 2 to 3 weeks and most colonies take longer.



I soak the strips in a solution of 65 Gl and 35 OA by weight. I let the strips drip out after soaking and then lay them out between cardboard (folded out boxes) for a day or so to take excess OA/GL off the strips and after that they weigh 50-55 grams, which means they contain approx 11 grams of OA.

When I put the strips in full size colonies, I do not see damage other than the physically covered brood cells, which, as I said before, I don’t like, but doesn’t seem much to the detriment of the hive performance. I have been able to time the treatments in such a way, that I don’t see varroa related damage to the colony before April, which means I can cover with the Apivar treatment most of the reinvasion period in Autumn. I did some monitoring two years ago, but discontinued as it seems to work anyway.
 
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maungaturoto
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can I ask if there is any beekeeper with more than say, 300 hives, who has used OA strips exclusively for more than a year with good results?
Who cares how many hves you have Tristan, if you base your results off 1 or 2 hives?
I'm pretty crap at statistics but even I can tell you that.

exactly. you can't get good info off small number of hives. its common in beekeeping for many hobbyists to never see a lot of the bee issues. its a once in a lifetime event for a hobbyist but a regular thing for a commercial with 1000's of hives. the more hives the more experience your going to get of it.
no different to manufacturing where they find issues once its out in large scale use. thats just normal.

so if it has problems in small scale then its not going to get better in large scale. the whole purpose of small scale testing is to find some of those basic issues so they can be fixed.
 
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Alastairs question is a good start, except the qualifier of "with good results" . What is a good result? No varroa? No brood damage? Reduced cost?
the big thing is reliability. first thing for any product is that it must do the job.

for me brood damage and cost are not critical. they are 2ndary objectives. eg having a cheaper treatment which doesn't work well is of no use.

one of the issues with most of the alterative treatments, is they are less effective and tend to have more variable outcomes.
however if it can be run over enough brood cycles that can mitigate that to a fair degree.

hence OAE is about extending the time it works for in the hive.
 
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Not exactly in the 300 plus category, but part of the year we are. Hope it adds to the discussion, but please take into account that this works for me here where I operate, but not necessarily everywhere, but have to emphasize that I do my beekeeping in a very crowded (hive density) area of the country.



I have been using OA/GL strips for a few years now and stick with it. I am not using only these strips, but do one Apivar treatment in autumn/winter time. In the active season I use the OA/GL strips. We use the Apivar in that time of the year because we have to, due to severe reinvasion pressure. In my view the OA/GL strips will not cope with that well in that time of year. For the OA/GL strips to work well, in my view, there needs to be activity in the hive, which is lacking in autumn/winter time, at least where I am. The Apivar comes out in June and after that no treatment till 2nd half of October. Normally put the OA/GL strips in end of October and again early January. I have learnt that that takes me to end of March to put Apivar in. This has worked for me quite well, that is not to say that I never see any damage due to varroa, but not more than working with synthetics only. Also our honey crop hasn’t suffered, which is very similar now to what it used to be when I treated only with synthetics (Bayvarol & Apivar).



What I use:

solid cardboard strips: 45cm long, 3 cm wide and 2mm thick and weigh about 18 grams before soaking. I admit, they are quite bulky and as I use only 8 FD frames (tight together), they are covering temporarily quite a bit of comb space (about 5% max at the time of inserting). Of course I don’t like that, but in the end what matters, is how the hive copes with that and my experience so far is that the performance of the hive is not affected noticeably. The strips being bulky means that it takes some time for the bees to “chew” them away. It takes at least 2 to 3 weeks and most colonies take longer.



I soak the strips in a solution of 65 Gl and 35 OA by weight. I let the strips drip out after soaking and then lay them out between cardboard (folded out boxes) for a day or so to take excess OA/GL off the strips and after that they weigh 50-55 grams, which means they contain approx 11 grams of OA.

When I put the strips in full size colonies, I do not see damage other than the physically covered brood cells, which, as I said before, I don’t like, but doesn’t seem much to the detriment of the hive performance. I have been able to time the treatments in such a way, that I don’t see varroa related damage to the colony before April, which means I can cover with the Apivar treatment most of the reinvasion period in Autumn. I did some monitoring two years ago, but discontinued as it seems to work anyway.

how many strips are you using per brood box?
how many times are you treating with OA during the season?
 

Alastair

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Hey thanks for that very full answer Gerrit, one of the most useful posts I have ever seen on the subject. I got a few questions I want to pick your brains but gotta head out and running late I'll post again later.
 
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