Looking for alternative option to treat varroa and Nosema

Bees control the inside hive temperature irrespective of what it is outside. Try to not treat and let us know how you get on?

I lost my hive to Varroa this winter. I am a total newbee and didn’t even know about them until it was too late. I would rather treat the hive naturally. I read (in Wikipedia of all places) that essential oils of lemon, mint and thyme were effective in killing the varroa mites without harm to the adult bees. The research was sited, which I read, but it doesn’t discuss the method of treatment and the amounts discussed were waaaay over my head. Has anybody tried using essential oils to treat for varroa?

Oxalic acid is natural (found in rhubarb, spinach and many other plants), organic and approved for Varroa treatment. It is also proven to be effective in Europe, Canada and recently the US. That would be my preference. I don’t know of any credible research with essential oil, except perhaps thyme oil (Thymol), but that is of limited value without other options.


Lots and lots of them have lost their hives.[quote=“Judy_Reeves, post:46, topic:1144”]
I would rather treat the hive naturally.

With the greatest respect you really need to understand how the bee/varroa life cycle interacts and how those beekeepers that do treat go about it and how to monitor your colony for infestation.
You cannot afford to experiment with one hive. You will lose them, start again next spring with a new colony and lose them again. How many times will you do that before you give up? It’s heartbreaking to see losses like that.
As Dawn says, Oxalic acid is organic, natural and effective. There are many protocols that are effective and vaporising seems to be the way to go but the rate of application differs in the presence or absence of brood.
Thymol is an essential oil and is applied in a very concentrated form and does upset the bees but it is nearly as effective as Oxalic.
I can give you a protocol for treating with Oxalic if you are interested
You could have a look here
There is a lot to read, I’m afraid

Michael Bush will probably be here soon to say he doesn’t treat his bees.
He has lots of hives and has had lots of losses on the way.

So sorry you have lost your colony

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I have not. Nor has my mentor of 30 years lost any due to mites.

I have seen a buildup actually of my colony since we went into winter.

I would check out Little Creek the ranch. Ken teaches classes on a number of things one of which is an all day class in a classroom using essential oils. I drove 8 hours to take this class as well as several others from him over a period of 3 months. I cannot tell you how much I learned and now understand more about the Honeybee and beekeeping.

I am not the longest distance traveler to his class. He’s had a few that have flown into town rented a car in Tulsa and then drive another hour and a half to him. Well worth the money and time

Also look at what Michael as said. He’s not treated I wonder what he’s using :slight_smile:?


Hi Judy, so sorry about your colony. Same happened to me, because I applied an effective treatment in an ineffective manner. Unfortunately varroa mites have raised the bee survival bar very high in so many parts of the world. There may be some evidence that oils work, but I havent found any very convincing methods using them. Dawn & Dee know what they’re talking about - and the link above posted by Logan gives a great overview of the problem along with a specific oxalic acid treatment timetable. Performing mite counts and oxalic acid vapor treatments are not very difficult at all, and you’ll get plenty of help & guidance here. But please see if you can find someone with experience in your area too - very often your methods need to be modified to suit your local climate & people here may not have exact enough knowledge of that.

Good luck :rainbow::honeybee::two_hearts:

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Marty. All of us here, me included, ( I may have a brash manner but I mean well ) are open to reasonable suggestions. I would happily not treat my colonies with anything if I could get away with it but I can’t. What essential oils are you using and what do you do with them? I could try your regime on one box, happily.
So please share your regime.


This is a nice little article http://www.bkbees.com/blog/blog9.htm


That was a great read, thanks Dee. More helpful info there than I’ve come across so far. Know thy enemy!

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People will slap a flea and tick collar on a dog or bathe it in flea and tick shampoo at the first sign of parasites but their bees? “Sorry you lil’ bastards, you’ll have to adapt!” lol


On a serious note: I suggest reading “Overwintering Bees in Cold Climates” by Marla Spivac of the University of Minnesota. You can be treatment free but it involves splitting the hives each year and letting the “parent” hive succumb to the mites.

Mel Disselkoen at http://www.mdasplitter.com/ had some similar methods

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That makes me so sad. You are not encouraging bees that can cope which is kind of what treatment free is about. Instead you are creating a brood break which is well known to slow varroa build up, for obvious reasons, and simply letting the parent colony die. I couldn’t do that knowing I could save them.

How would you “encourage” them to survive?

What’s the difference between leaving them alone to see if they die vs leaving them alone to see if they are survivors? How else would one know if they had survivors unless they left them alone?

If they survive the winter, split 'em again the following Spring.

I think treating bees is for commercial bee keepers. Those bees have a super hard life in those monoculture almond fields. Not to mention all the bees in America coming together to share every disease available before going home to spread it to all areas of the country. Thanks Typhoid Marybee.

If you want to keep bees naturally you have to look at how bees have always lived. Bee keepers and American agriculture are the only mite bees can’t escape.

Bees want to breed and survive. Swarming is the only way to keep bees. Everyone can successfully keep bees when they stop keeping them like cats. Neuter your bees and they die. Keeping bees unnaturally is just crazy. Bees live just a few weeks, let them be bees.

Natural bee keeping can be done with a few changes to your set up. You need to go the whole way though, not just stopping treatments. Treatment isn’t the issue, natural is the issue. Get on the Micheal Bush band wagon!!

And remember I’m just as wrong as everyone else. No one understands all this, the universe is the only model. But do you want to be wrong AND poison the world, or just be wrong? Get some extra boxes and frames, let your bees multiply, stop buying bees from people outside your bee club, love your bees!!

I Love Bees!!

What is a “no treatment” method to combat varroa mite? I need to know for when they eventually make it to Australia.

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Brood breaks (most effectively done by allowing to swarm), drone culling, leaving the bees their own honey but most importantly accept you will have very significant losses to start with and breed only from the survivors.

I take exception to that. My bees would die if I didn’t tackle varroa. There are too many beekeepers with untreated collapsing colonies around me.


Seconded. I am not a commercial beekeeper either. I will be lucky if I don’t lose at least one hive to varroa this year.


I can’t do that for queens. My area has 60% africanized bees, so my bee club can’t guarantee a gentle queen. I have a tiny urban plot, and the City will only allow me to keep 2 hives on it if I requeen every 2 years with a known gentle queen. Nice ideas, but not practical for everyone.

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We don’t have africanized bees up north but how would a local (Bee club
member) make queens different a commercial shop? I guess I don’t understand
the local atmosphere.

My view point is that we are learning our practices from the wrong source.
Learn from the bees and not any source that has any kind of monetary
involvement. Not everything they say is wrong but none of it can be taken
as truth either, we don’t really know bees well enough. Don’t change what
is working, but start by getting to natural comb and bee size.

If you are restricted to 5 or fewer hive I can’t imagine how you can keep
bees as bees, now they are pets with food and vet bills. I’m not saying its
wrong cause if you help bees you get a thumbs up in my book, but it you are
limited like that you need to view it more as an expensive hobby.
Personally I need my bees to break even or profit, I’m a poor bee keeper :slight_smile:

My plan is to have lots of nucs built for next year and expand my apiary.
Find other locations to place my bees by involving other people that want
to help the bees but maybe can’t supply the time or expertise. If your
location limits your hives, make friends with your neighbors, talk to
family and co-workers. Ask for the help that people can give and you supply
the rest :slight_smile:

Good luck wintering all!

It depends how much time you have left on the planet.
The ideal is that you leave all your colonies to fend for themselves. That means not treating with chemicals and not feeding.
You breed only from the survivors and you are isolated from other beekeepers who do not join your scheme. That would work if everybody did it.

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