Resistant varroa disaster.

Messages
66
Location
Gisborne Tairawhiti
Experience
Researcher
If there are beekeepers who have done sugar or alchohol shakes after treatment and find varroa . . .please keep them ! Put 20 or more into a small container (alchohol and all), date them and put somewhere safe. If you report resistance then you will be asked to provide varroa sample if possible.
 
Messages
66
Location
Gisborne Tairawhiti
Experience
Researcher
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.

Has the resistance been reported to the strip manufacturer John ? They are obliged under the ACVM to follow up these reports. @DonMac will have more info
 
Messages
3,238
Location
Hawksbay
Experience
Commercial
I reported resistance to the manufacturers at the time and also supplied resistant mites in alcohol. The mites were tested and did not show any genetic markers for resistance and the matter was not taken any further.
From memory they tested both the mites and the strips and were prompt and courteous but it still didn't change the fact that the strips which for many years had worked perfectly (and yes I used different product spring and autumn) no longer killed varoa in my hives.Two other beekeepers that I work closely with had marked resistance in some of their hives as well.
I haven't used synthetic pyrethroids for several years as a result of this failure. I have done this to protect my hives and also to slow down the spread of these resistant mites. What we need now is for one or hopefully many of the affected beekeepers to come forward and supply results and if requested samples for testing.
 
Messages
66
Location
Gisborne Tairawhiti
Experience
Researcher
I reported resistance to the manufacturers at the time and also supplied resistant mites in alcohol. The mites were tested and did not show any genetic markers for resistance and the matter was not taken any further.
From memory they tested both the mites and the strips and were prompt and courteous but it still didn't change the fact that the strips which for many years had worked perfectly (and yes I used different product spring and autumn) no longer killed varoa in my hives.Two other beekeepers that I work closely with had marked resistance in some of their hives as well.
I haven't used synthetic pyrethroids for several years as a result of this failure. I have done this to protect my hives and also to slow down the spread of these resistant mites. What we need now is for one or hopefully many of the affected beekeepers to come forward and supply results and if requested samples for testing.
HI John - apologies, I meant had these current cases been reported ?? As you say, ALL the affected beekeepers need to come forward and report it to the manufacturer
 
Messages
49
Location
Katikati
Experience
Commercial
Now, when looking at resistance, isn't it related to very specific parts of the mite DNA? And when suspect mites are tested for resistance I think they only look at any changes in these specific areas. Because that's what they know. But a new change in mite DNA needs to be discovered to validate new strain of resistance. Which is time and resource demanding.
It's possible we have a new genetic change in the mites here, to be found
 
Messages
66
Location
Gisborne Tairawhiti
Experience
Researcher
Now, when looking at resistance, isn't it related to very specific parts of the mite DNA? And when suspect mites are tested for resistance I think they only look at any changes in these specific areas. Because that's what they know. But a new change in mite DNA needs to be discovered to validate new strain of resistance. Which is time and resource demanding.
It's possible we have a new genetic change in the mites here, to be found
You're exactly right Gino. Worldwide the current resistance markers to synthetic pyrethroids have been in a 'hotspot' where the chemical binds to the varroa protein and blocks it. One of 3 mutations in this very small hotspot have been linked to resistance. We developed an assay a few years ago that looks for these mutations and also scans the whole region for any other mutations.

Butyes, there could be some other mutation in the whole varroa DNA sequence . . .but no chance to find this unless people collect a sample of the varroa they believe to be resistant.
 

tommy dave

Gold
Messages
88
Location
mostly wellington, sometimes dunedin
Experience
Hobbyist
So what is the product that is failing ....?
my first reaction is that i don't think any product is failing, i think beekeepers are failing. Bayvarol is what i've heard, but I haven't heard anything i'd consider particularly reliable - basically due to who it's coming from

edit: notably, a far more experienced and skilled beekeeper than me has heard it from people who he deems reliable - that suggests to me that there might be an issue. Thanks for your post @John B - that's really useful information
 
Last edited:
Messages
80
Location
Bay of Plenty
Experience
Commercial
Have spent the day chatting to Eckrotek, NZBeeswax and other beekeepers, about this issue. The same cry goes out every couple of years that the sky is falling and we want someone to blame. One thing we know is that there are a lot more hives around in certain areas so more room for reinvasion contamination etc. Both suppliers on average have not heard anymore questions on their products than what they normally get in any given year, which isn't a lot. What we know is that there is often different areas that may show more problems than others, and those areas may change from year to year.
I suspect/have seen, that the varroa landscape is/has/will always be shifting, in regards to how little infestation either self inflicted or from outside the hive is needed to cause damage to a hive. Beeks will have to learn about their apiaries as to how to use what type of treatment and when to best affect. If you are not monitoring and knowing at each step what varroa levels you have in your hive you are treating blind.
There is no doubt that more hives will be having an impact, so will moving hives 2-3 times chasing different honey flows, pollination etc.
But the bigger affect I believe is beekeeper management, not treating because of money, timing, slackness, lack of staff, lack of knowledge of varroa levels, not having a plan of managing and checking hives, the list can go on. Why does the majority of beeks using any given product have no problem with that product but a few do??? What's going on??? Some years there is more varroa about than others, are beeks changing their treatments to take that in to account.
Kiwifruit Pollination was linked to this problem, well over a hundred thousand hives come into kiwi pollination, and if there was a problem arising from that I would suspect there would be a lot of noise from not only the Hawks Bay area but over the most of the north island. Which there isn't/hasn't been, not saying that it doesn't have an impact, but not the "smoking Gun".
We as beeks don't change our practices until we have to, and sometimes things can creep up on us and kiss us in the butt, and we go looking for some reason/person/product to blame.
I don't know the companies that may be affected or their practices, but if you are having issues go talk to the suppliers, they to want to make sure their products are working. Both companies would welcome the chat.
 

yesbut

Staff member
Messages
11,483
Location
Nelson
Experience
Hobbyist
There's also the seeming likelihood of increasing virulence of DWV and the other bugs the mite spreads. Ie as time goes by fewer mites are needed for the spreading job
 
Messages
3,238
Location
Hawksbay
Experience
Commercial
I have found the relevant entry in my diary 6\3\2018
four hives strong one story hives given standard alcohol wash and then Given four bayvarol strips from a brand-new packets.
Mite numbers were 52 33 55 72 This is later than I would normally treat but I was saving these hives for this experiment plus these were varoa tolerant queens I was testing.
27\3 37 15 22 63 A moderate reduction in mite numbers.
6\4 31 22 45 105
at this stage hive number four had quite bad PMS and the trial was discontinued with the hives being treated with apivar.
Hives in the same apiarys that were treated with apivar were mite free On 6/4.
I conducted this trial because an apiary that I had treated in the spring with bayvarol Was showing significant varoa in early January. I treated these hives with bayvarol again on 18 January 2018. I did this specifically to see if it was the bayvarol or something else causing the problem. When I checked on 27 February all hives had bad varoa and I made a note that I expected half the hives not to survive. These hives were treated that day with apivar and in the end I lost 4/16 hives.
I promptly told the world what I had found and all I got for my troubles was being told that it must be reinvasion or that I hadn't put the strips in properly. Funny how the other hives at home didn't get any reinvasion and in the apiary with all the trouble all the reinvasion stopped as soon as I put different strips in.
Either there were two completely different batches of bayvarol that were duds or I had resistance.(They can't have been dud strips because I sent them away to be tested and they were fine)
Last autumn there were numerous reports of amatraz impregnated strips failing and this was definitely a case of dud strips as the varoa problem cleared straight up when people used the other product with the same active ingredient. Thousands of hives were affected by this failure yet there has been no publicity or enquiry by either the manufacture or authoritys. I guess the manufacturer doesn't want to be sued for loss of hives just as I haven't mentioned product names because though I am 100% sure it happened I'm not hundred percent sure I could defend myself against a smart lawyer.
 
Messages
8,288
Location
maungaturoto
Experience
Commercial
one of the simple issues is there is many factors and especially so with honey prices the way they are and so many hives and businesses going up for sale.
if its very wide spread that tends to rule out reinvasion unless there is a big company or two leaving hives to die spread out in that area.
interesting enough with the first lot of resistance in nz, which we where basically at ground zero, the hives we had a lot of mite problems with where the ones that came out of the orchards.
but back then it was 10 years of almost non-stop use of bayvarol, which was pretty common for a lot of beeks. we couldn't use bayvarol for 5-6 years after that.
 
Messages
80
Location
Bay of Plenty
Experience
Commercial
one of the simple issues is there is many factors and especially so with honey prices the way they are and so many hives and businesses going up for sale.
if its very wide spread that tends to rule out reinvasion unless there is a big company or two leaving hives to die spread out in that area.
interesting enough with the first lot of resistance in nz, which we where basically at ground zero, the hives we had a lot of mite problems with where the ones that came out of the orchards.
but back then it was 10 years of almost non-stop use of bayvarol, which was pretty common for a lot of beeks. we couldn't use bayvarol for 5-6 years after that.
Swarms will also be a big problem as well, lots more hives with low amount of staff to keep an eye on them potentially means more swarms.
 

Alastair

Founder Member
Platinum
Messages
7,860
Location
Auckland
Experience
Semi Commercial
A few months ago 2 of my sites that are less than a km apart went red on the (then) Apiweb. Then 7 or so weeks ago when I took the honey and AFB checked at those sites there was one hive in each apiary with AFB.

They were burned, the rest were given bayvarol and wintered down.

Today I went and checked both those sites again, purely to ensure that AFB had not shown in any of the other hives. It hadn't (phew)!

But what I did see was a crapload of mites and mite damage, just in some of the hives. This after 7 weeks bayvarol.

I am torn. Could be bayvarol failed. But, there is AFB in the area and likely a shonky unknown beekeeper who allowed an AFB deadout to get robbed, thus infecting mine and whoever else it was who reported it. So the other possibility is there is a shonky beekeeper in the area who has mite infested hives currently being robbed by my bees and causing re invasion.

I don't know which so not jumping to any conclusions at this time.

I have not yet been back to check any other sites since they had strips put in.
 

Dave Black

Gold
BOP Club
Messages
3,047
Location
Bay of Plenty
Experience
Retired
I had an issue referred to me recently. I asked for a resistance (Pettis) test to be done, because I was looking forward to sending a sample to @JohnF :)
The mite counts came back... and the sample won't be going to John.

It's an unusual year; big, late, brood nests, and lots of activity. I'm guessing the treatment will still be working, but not the way we are used to.
 
Messages
66
Location
Gisborne Tairawhiti
Experience
Researcher
Do you have those modifications you made to the Pettis test for Bayvarol, Dave?
I guess these experiences are also highlighting the need for ensuring treatments have worked by sugar/alcohol shakes.
 
Messages
13
Location
Whakatane
Experience
Commercial
@John B Our business take/ experience with the current varroa issue. Firstly we are thankful for people like yourself and Russel Berry who are prepared to speak up and sound warnings.

We have had two mild winters and have come to spring with far more brood than we consider normal for that time of the year when we started spring rounds. Could it be that in many areas the queens have not fully stopped laying or if they have it has been for a far shorter time and this longer laying has allowed varroa levels to stay higher.

We do not do regular alcohol washes. I have however done enough to show that we really don't have an idea of varroa levels just by looking in the hive and uncapping some brood. In the economical current climate we have reduced staff and spending dramatically so have not done regular washes. That said our company stand is that varroa treatment is a non negotiable

Because of the threat of resistance to treatments we have made it our mission to learn how to use other treatments. We have only used the odd (less that 10 this season) Apivar or Apistan if a hive was failing (and numerous times that did not help), this past season. Prior to that were doing some with Oxalic and others with Apivar in spring and Apistan in autumn, as we gained an understanding of using oxalic staples

Our normal end of season treatment round was mid Feb to March other years. Last year with covid our hives were shut up at the beginning of April all with a box of honey on and our last full time and then only staff member was put off (cost cutting, now no fulltime staff) Just Hubby and I and a casual at the busy times. running around 650 hives. Pollination in Te Kaha, Opotiki and Whakatane areas.

Back to last season - we didnt do any hive work or visit sites till the beginning of August, Approximately half treated with Apistan and the other half with oxalic staples, that autumn. By the 4th of September the end of our first round our winter losses were 2.6% mostly failing queens and a few varroa/corrorapa.

This season using totally Oxalic staples as treatments. We decided to put treatments in as we took honey off and disease checked as it would cut out one round of vehicle use. (we thought) This meant that our treatment went in exactly one month earlier than other years. (our finding has been less varroa losses in the sites harvested and treated in January than those harvested in February.) We are thankful for this decision as I believe our losses would be greater if we had treated at our normal time.

Because of the fact that our treatment's were in earlier it became obvious that we should consider an autumn treatment, so we figured we would use thymol and mineral oil cords (only 1 round we thought even though friends always do 2 rounds. So the beginning of April we began on a new mission for us.

Suddenly we were bringing home lots of dead outs. We got our first then other warning emails from NZ Beekeeping Inc. Very thankful for them. So we have done two rounds of thymol cords the alive hives love them and look great.

Our hives are ready for winter. For us our losses are very high they represent many deadouts (2H boxes) brought home to be cleaned out.

Since mid February our losses are 2% to queen failure and drone layers, then 6.5% single handedly to varroa, with very sudden collapses of strong hives, varroa are found in the remaining brood or even dead on the cords.

Interesting note on dead out hives (to varroa) we have seen dead varroa on oxalic staples that have been torn down and on floor 2 months after they were placed in the hives, older than that have not seen this result. Also weeks after the first round (3-4 weeks) again on some hives dead from varroa found many dead varroa on the cords, just no bees left in the box. These are hives that often had 1-1 1/2 boxes of bees on the first round.

To sum up last season from April to beginning of September our total losses were 2.6%.

This season still 4 months away from September and we have 6.5% losses to varroa and it could/most probably will go higher, plus 2% the result of queen problems.

A number of years ago we had a corrorapa problem. The brood signs are slightly different but the biggest difference is other hives would not rob out left honey from the dead hive. With varroa collapse the bees from the other hives come in and clean out the honey, yay nothing like spreading varroa through the rest of the operation.

We have never done fogging and aren't sure about it. We are hoping we have done enough to stop our losses for this season.

We need to be talking more openly about this problem and I believe we still have a problem of beekeepers with a lack of money not treating enough and this problem means we are all affected.
 
Messages
3,238
Location
Hawksbay
Experience
Commercial
You're braver than me using organic treatments. I haven't used them a lot but I have tried most of them over the years and found them to be unreliable with big differences between individual hives and also far more effective at some times of the year than others.We may all end up having to use them and I know I should be doing more with them but apart from the variable success rate I also find them to be pretty hard on the hives
 

Top