Resistant varroa disaster.

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3,342
6,177
Hawkes Bay
Experience
Commercial
There appears to be a massive resistance problem with synthetic pyrethroids in at least some parts of the North Island and I am getting reports of very high hive losses from multiple beekeepers.
I have talked to Michelle Taylor from plant and food but without concrete evidence it is hard for her to take my concerns any further .
What we need is for people to do a Pettis test on hives that appear to be showing resistance. One quarter cup of bees into a ventilated jar with a piece of the suspect strip stabled onto a piece of cardboard. Leave for six hours and count how many mites have died then alcohol wash the bees and see how many are left.That is the basic Pettis test but I suggest you look it up to get the details right. I would post it but as usual have no idea how.
I have seen nothing official on this problem apart from a few vague hints to make sure your treatments are working. Well from what I'm hearing when some of you go and check you are going to get a very unpleasant surprise.
We are not talking about a few hundred or even a few thousand hives dying. This is likely to be the biggest hive loss event that the country has ever seen .
Some of the damage will be repairable if enough people wake up in time but we need at least some accurate information on hive losses and proven resistance to get the wheels rolling.
 
3,342
6,177
Hawkes Bay
Experience
Commercial
Definitely Hawke's Bay and any hives that went into Bay of Plenty kiwi fruit pollination. It's really hard to know whether it's very widespread but I suspect it is. 20 years ago we all would have been on the phone to each other and everyone would have at least been aware of what was happening but beekeepers have become very insular (for good reason) and I suspect the majority of beekeepers no longer have any contact with other beekeepers when it comes to the sort of problem.
Beekeepers that didn't use synthetic pyrethroid strips This autumn shouldn't be completely complacent either because there is going to be some pretty massive reinvasion pressure. There are also anecdotally hives that have not been treated at all because of lack of funds and these will add to the problem.
When you get resistance it can be very obvious because the hives are dead but you can also get partial resistance and the hives may look fine but still have moderate numbers of mites and these hives will probably not survive the winter. I know from a few years ago when I took part in a thymol trial that even a few mites left in the late autumn lead to severely compromised hives in the spring.
 
8,390
4,812
maungaturoto
Experience
Commercial
This autumn shouldn't be completely complacent either because there is going to be some pretty massive reinvasion pressure.
i was about to mention that. you could bet there is some beeks walking away from hives.
however that can kick off a chain reaction where reinvasion cause high hive losses which then snow balls.

however imho, going back to what we went through many years ago, the hives will have been dieing off for years. there is warning signs. its not instant.
 
1,298
1,759
North Canterbury
Experience
Commercial
Some guys will be pulling autumn treatments out as next doors festering untreated hives die out.. not ideal.
Round and round we go.
Do we know for sure this is resistance or simply a case of can’t afford treatments..
 
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3,342
6,177
Hawkes Bay
Experience
Commercial
This is either resistance or a bad batch of strips and given that resistance was detected initially several years ago I would put my money on resistance.
I am normally happy to remove my strips after eight weeks but I think I will wait till 10 weeks this time when hopefully it will be a bit colder and reinvasion becomes less likely.
 
5,443
5,725
canterbury
Experience
Commercial
Hmmm ..... went through a yard of 48 this arvo ...... it was kinda weird because there was'nt a lot of honey onboard ....hired man commented that was'nt I content with what was in the shed already ..... to which I replied that I was'nt toooo worried about the lack of honey, but it was the bigger picture, when most other yards are heavy with honey, a lack of it points to something else. The strips have been in for a month or so, but I was still seeing wingless bees and dead hives.
We have been using Apivar this autumn, so still have a way to go before we pull them.

I like the sound of large bee losses up North ...... it might pump the nuc market in the spring or the sale of live hives mid winter . 🥶 ❄️

The other thought I had was that perhaps with a low honey price people are under treating ......
 
1,298
1,759
North Canterbury
Experience
Commercial
Ya gotta wonder.. im pretty sure that if you read the fine print on the packet several hundred times over .. even backwards.. you will never find it written anywhere that it is a magic bullet treatment that will correct all beekeeper error and instantly cure rotten twisted wings or parasitic mite syndrome or any other crippling virus spread by the creepy crawly mite..
late treatments, zero mite number monitoring and leaving in treatments too long or not long enough and also half dose treating are all operator error in my book.

easy path to take is to assume the treatment.. however poorly delivered is to blame..
there are plenty of treatments at our fingertips, some very cost effective, some not, some extremely time consuming but it is up to the operator to decide which options work best and at least monitor the creeping mite.. to get a heads up before things slide beyond control..
how many even bother to do a few washes... not many I’d say.
my 2c worth.
 
5,443
5,725
canterbury
Experience
Commercial
Ya gotta wonder.. im pretty sure that if you read the fine print on the packet several hundred times over .. even backwards.. you will never find it written anywhere that it is a magic bullet treatment that will correct all beekeeper error and instantly cure rotten twisted wings or parasitic mite syndrome or any other crippling virus spread by the creepy crawly mite..
late treatments, zero mite number monitoring and leaving in treatments too long or not long enough and also half dose treating are all operator error in my book.

easy path to take is to assume the treatment.. however poorly delivered is to blame..
there are plenty of treatments at our fingertips, some very cost effective, some not, some extremely time consuming but it is up to the operator to decide which options work best and at least monitor the creeping mite.. to get a heads up before things slide beyond control..
how many even bother to do a few washes... not many I’d say.
my 2c worth.
Sounds like a dollars worth to me !
 
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tommy dave

Gold
BOP Club
136
139
mostly wellington, sometimes dunedin
Experience
Hobbyist
There appears to be a massive resistance problem with synthetic pyrethroids in at least some parts of the North Island and I am getting reports of very high hive losses from multiple beekeepers.
have heard similar posted via social media and communicated directly to me. Some have indicated that major suppliers have received loads of similar information. My immediate response was to wonder if it was due to a dud batch as happened a few years ago, all reports I have heard relate to the same product.

If i had the opportunity, i'd bet on it being under-treating or lack of treatment by a number of beekeepers, and a combination of inevitable issues for those beekeepers, along with re-invasion for others. Next bet would be a big dud batch of something.
 

Wknz

Silver
245
156
Christchurch
Experience
Beginner
The strips have been in for a month or so, but I was still seeing wingless bees and dead hives.
We have been using Apivar this autumn, so still have a way to go before we pull them.
I'm not a big bee keeper but am seeing the same in one of my locations. Apivar in and 4-5 weeks on wingless bees. The other location had apivar purchased last year but this has stuff purchased from this year. The wingless ones are munted wings, not missing as if they had been attacked.
 
179
252
Bay of Plenty
Experience
Commercial
The problem with this issue is there is so many variables, where the beekeepers monitoring their mite levels all through the year, did they take a shortcut on either amount of strips per hive or even amount of treatments per year, or did they stretch out the timing between treatments. etc etc there will be some hive management issues in here before varroa issues. When I hear others who are having no problem with treatments, then you have to ask some question, it may be a geographic issue, some experimental issues, and of course it may be a strip issue.
 
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3,342
6,177
Hawkes Bay
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Commercial
If the current situation is caused by PPB then it is the largest outbreak of PPB the country has ever seen and amongst many beekeepers that have never had a problem with PPB before. If synthetic pyrethroids are still working for you then that is great but given the number of hives that are moved around the countryside they won't be working for long.
I had hives two years ago with varoa that were totally resistant to Bayvarol . I did a properly conducted scientific tests on these hives using brand-new strips from a different batch and the correct number of strips with careful monitoring and alcohol washes.
It was no surprise to me that the epicentre was near another beekeeper that hadn't used anything but bayvarol for 10 years (it works fine why should I change).
It's no surprise to me that these resistant mites have spread.
It did surprise me at the time that nobody seemed to believe me or take what I was saying seriously.
It no longer surprises me that apart from those that have had their faces rubbed in it ,I'm still not believed.
 
173
158
Southland
Experience
Commercial
If the current situation is caused by PPB then it is the largest outbreak of PPB the country has ever seen and amongst many beekeepers that have never had a problem with PPB before. If synthetic pyrethroids are still working for you then that is great but given the number of hives that are moved around the countryside they won't be working for long.
I had hives two years ago with varoa that were totally resistant to Bayvarol . I did a properly conducted scientific tests on these hives using brand-new strips from a different batch and the correct number of strips with careful monitoring and alcohol washes.
It was no surprise to me that the epicentre was near another beekeeper that hadn't used anything but bayvarol for 10 years (it works fine why should I change).
It's no surprise to me that these resistant mites have spread.
It did surprise me at the time that nobody seemed to believe me or take what I was saying seriously.
It no longer surprises me that apart from those that have had their faces rubbed in it ,I'm still not believed.
I can understand how frustrated you are, it seems that if you don't have degree behind your name you're not supposed to do, understand and talk science currently. I'm not in a position to help you there, but I do take it very seriously what you're saying as I know your experience and I'll be looking at our treatments and back ups. You did try the quick strips a while ago, how did they go for you?
 
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3,342
6,177
Hawkes Bay
Experience
Commercial
My trial with quick strips was a very limited test to see how they would work with my hive configuration. They certainly killed varoa but with my hive configurations they also killed a lot of individual bees. I guess I would use formic acid if I had to but in my opinion its use comes very close to animal cruelty. It might be organic but it is also very hard and harsh on the bees.
I have now effectively got only one easy-to-use and reliably effective product for controlling varoa. Very soon the whole of the North Island and given the free movement of beehives probably the South Island will soon be in the same situation and this will inevitably lead to us having no easily used and reliable product.
I have taken part in trials for quite a few different organic products and I have always found them to be less effective, more time-consuming and often far harder on the bees(And sometimes the beekeeper). I know that I could keep a couple of hives in my backyard using things like drone trapping and oxalic dribbles during man-made queenless periods.
It's not a matter of whether organics can be made to work, it's a matter of whether commercial beekeeping can survive without our currently easy to use and reliably effective products..I know there are beekeepers out there using alternatives but the reality at the moment is that the vast majority of hives in New Zealand are treated with conventional strips. I don't know what that percentage is but I suspect it is well over 90% and probably closer to 99%.
When I started this thread it was for the purpose of informing my fellow beekeepers of what I believe is a very real problem and also an attempt to try and get some actual data on just how widespread the problem is at this time. Resistance has happened many times in many countries and its spread has been studied and analysed. We have always known I was going to happen,, we have unfortunately never had any plan or legislation to help make resistance less likely to occur and we have no plans in place now that it has occurred.
 


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