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To treat or not to treat - that is the question


Hi :wave:

I’m completely new at this, but have been lucky enough to stumble across some good literature on treatment free beekeeping. This theory of not treating bees to create a stronger society of Varroa resistant bees make sure sense to me. I tend to live my own life with similar principles regarding antibiotics, vaccs, living healthily and eating from as close to nature as possible.

Anyhow…so I have my first hive or nuc (10 frames) that was made from a split early mid June. They are just one brood box, and it looks like they will stay as this through the winter. Tomorrow I will transfer them from their Nacka LN hive belonging to the bee keeper I bought them from, over to my langstroth frames and hive. I’ll also start to feed them a little to help them through this last month of good weather.

The keeper has sprayed them once with oxcalic acid (oxcal syra in Sweden). My local bee store guy says I need to treat them next week with
Apiguard. The biggest problem here seems to be Varroa.

My vision is to eventually have a few hives ( I have only one now), that I can maintain and keep a healthy balance without treating with chemicals, oils or anything they wouldn’t naturally be able to treat themselves with.

My question is, if I do NOT treat these girls now, am i running too much of a risk of losing them in the winter. But it seems contradictory to treat them just this one last time, and still hope to create a super healthy resistant society starting next year :thinking:

Oh my head is torn in two :tired_face:

If you are a non treatment user I’d love to hear your thoughts! What would you do?
And of course all of you other very experienced bee keepers out there too!

TIA :blush:


Dead bees have 100% mite resistance lol

I won’t allow my dogs to suffer through parasitic fleas and ticks in an effort to breed resistant dogs so I won’t let my bees suffer through parasitic mites.

On the flip side, we know that a brood break is a good chemical free way of dealing with the mites. If you’re willing to “off” your queen each season and let the bees rear a new one, that month long brood break seems to do a number on the mites. Bees achieve this brood break naturally by swarming, something many beekeepers (not me) try to thwart.

Also, if you’re willing to keep 50 or so hives like I am, you can afford not to treat and accept the winter losses; easily making up for them by splitting the following Spring. I didn’t treat last year and lost 27 out of 50 vs the year before when I did treat and wintered 41 out of 41.

Why not just measure the amount of mites in your hive? You may not have to treat if the mite count is low.


Well, with one hive, I would treat, unless you are willing to start all over again next year. I am not sure that I would use Apiguard, as Oxalic Acid is a very good treatment choice, and beekeepers in the UK and Canada use it all year (no change of treatment). I know that most suggest rotating treatments, and you could certainly do that, but Oxalic Acid is so effective, that would be my choice, and it is organic.

Now, about your vaccinations, as a doctor specializing in children, I totally disapprove, but that is your right, I suppose. I have just seen too many babies suffering with whooping cough and measles, and older children with the resulting bronchiectasis… :blush: :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


[quote=“Red_Hot_Chilipepper, post:2, topic:12232”]
Dead bees have 100% mite resistance lol

True that Red Hot Chillipepper! (Top band too, good name choice :wink:)

I’ve been reading about the sugar roll test for mites, but I’m not sure what counts as low for my area- that I need to check up.

Considering this is my first and only hive, I’d really like to succeed in making it through the snowy winter here! I may have to eat my hat and treat.

But it’s good to have a vision, right?

Thanks for your input!


Hi Dawn!

Thanks for the tips! Like I said it’s all new to me, and I hadn’t heard of the Apiguard treatment until last week at the store. I’m not sure if it’s organic, but some kind of Thymoll base (tyme oil) I think.

I know vacs are a very touchy subject. My husband and I come from two different ends of the spectrum so after many years of discussion we opted for delayed vacs for the kids so their first jab was when they turn 5 when we felt their little bodies are developed enough to deal with the foreign substances. We have picked the ones we feel are applicable for them. Australia have so many on the list, Sweden have a lot, but less than in Aus. US prob have tonnes more! But they are healthy and happy kids :blush:

I need to read up more on the oxalic acid, it is what they have suggested to use in our bee group too.

Thanks heaps :slight_smile:


@coco I respect people’s decisions to manage their lives but not harm others in the process.

I had a patient last week, 47 year old female, who had a “rash”. As we left the hospital the ED nurse ran after us saying they just confirmed she has MEASLES!

That woman was walking around my town for at least four days exposing cancer patients, newborn babies, and other people to a potentially deadly virus. Going into the hospital she increased the risk to the just-born babies and other ill patients. The ambulance she rode in had to be taken out of service and decontaminated making it unavailable to people in need (we only have two ambulances in town).

There is no evidence that “delayed vacs” reduce any imagined risks. I’m amazed how volumes of scientific evidence gets trumped by how some parents “feel”.

You haven’t seen guilt or regret until you have seen a parent whose in immunized child is critically ill with a preventable decease.

… sorry, sore point with me as a medical semi-professional … I still love you, we just disagree on this topic.

But back to bees - how many hives do you have?


Hi @Coco, you are correct, Apiguard is Thymol (thyme essential oil) in a slow release greasy formulation. Thymol is organic, as it is a direct plant extract.

My only concern with that treatment in Sweden is weather. To be really effective, the outside temperature needs to be 59 to 80F (15 to 27C) for about 4 weeks (2 weeks first dose, 2-4 weeks second dose), so that the bees will be active enough to pass it around the hive. I haven’t looked at the weather in Sweden right now, but my mother says that the UK is very cold and wet at the moment, which would reduce the effectiveness of treatment. Also, be sure that you put the slider in the upper slot, as Thymol vapours are heavier than air, and will fall through the screen if the board is not in place, which reduces effectiveness.

For oxalic acid, the best way to use it is with a vaporizer. Your bee group may be willing to lend or rent one to you. If you want to buy one, they cost about $160 in the US, I would guess about the same in Euros in Sweden. You will also need a 12V battery or a car jump starter to power the heating element. If there is brood in the hive, you need to do 3 treatments at 5 day intervals. If the bees are clustered with no brood (late October or November in your climate, I would guess), then one treatment is sufficient.


Hi there!

I know it’s a hotly debated topic. I too am unimmunised since birth as this was my fathers wish and his beliefs coming from a Chiropractors point of view which usually never meets that of the medical view. With our children though and to help my husband understand ‘the other side’ we sought help from a paediatrician in Australia who specialises in dealing with patients (potentially) damaged from vaccines. From his experience these children had unforeseen health limitations prior to the vaccine and believes that to be the probable cause and why some children can handle them and some can’t. We decided the risk of damage outweighed the risk of contracting the disease to be vac.d against.
For example in Aus new born babies are given Hep C shots. I decided mine wouldn’t be walking Kings Cross with the junkies for at least another 18 years by which time the vac would have worn off anyhow :sweat_smile:

It’s one of those topics that they say you shouldn’t talk about over the dinner table I guess… politics, religion and we can add vaccinations! But yes we can be friends with different opinions- I have many :wink:

bees :honeybee: are way more exciting to talk about

I have just one very new hive - I bought them from a local keeper and she had done a split in mid June from one of her other hives and they reared their own queen, so she’s very new too :slight_smile:

Varroa are most definitely there, but as someone else suggested I need to do a count to see how many. Hopefully the break in the brood cycle from the split has kept them at bay though. I also need to understand what is classed as a low count as I think it’s different for different areas if I’m right?


Different for different times in the season. Right now, if you have 4 or 5 per 100 bees using the sugar roll method, you need to treat. I just counted one of our hives, and found almost 7 per 100 (it was 20 in 300 bees). Scary stuff. Treatment is in progress. Oh, and these were from an allegedly “hygienic” queen. :open_mouth:


Oh wow :flushed:
I would have assumed that as low!

I will do a count next inspection but my gut is telling me it will be high by these measures!


Thank you Dawn!

Oh there are so many things to remember right now! The weather- I did read that too now I recall, & it must be why the bee shop guy said to start to start this week (he was speaking Swedish and I was trying) :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
So some thing do get lost in translation on my side! We’ve had a few weeks of ‘warm’ weather and just now it’s starting to change a little. A bit of rain and top of 20 degrees Celsius, but who knows In 4 weeks it changes quickly here!

We have a bee meet soon and I think you’re right the group have something we can loan to spray so that will prob be the way I go.

Thanks lovely :blush:


It isn’t a spray. You heat a powder in a tiny crucible until it melts and evaporates into the hive. That is vaporization.

You can trickle and spray Oxalic Acid dissolved in syrup too, but it isn’t as effective in my humble opinion.


This is what the University of Minnesota says. They are recognized experts in varroa management, and breed hygienic bees. The last paragraph says 3-4 mites per 100 bees, my personal limit is 5 per 100, but the instant I see evidence of DWV, I treat anyway regardless of count:



Oh that’s my lack of understanding Swedish :roll_eyes:
Thanks for clearing that up Dawn :slight_smile:


In case it helps to know what it looks like, this is the version I have:



Sorry my answer has gotten so long, every time I start an answer it turns into a story… I guess I just have a lot of story to tell.

Other than removing lid to look in and removing window covers to watch, I do 0 inspections, 0 treatments, feed no sugar except for giving them a jelly jar (have only done once) to clean out and will use no smoke, I feel this only irritates them and looses you honey, maybe even bees, I do not know if they come back after fire goes out or not, they all look the same to me. My bees are very calm as I do not go in hive to see how their queen is doing, (I’d move too if someone came in my house every few weeks and moved all the furniture around to see how me and my queen is doing) I can just look at entrance or in windows to see how she is doing, they’ll take care of any problems, they know better than I do what they need in a queen. Man gets too involved and we are losing and the poison that we use for treatments doesn’t help.

This is only my way, very few, if any agree with me but my Flow Hives are 8 frame western red cedar on 2.5- 3 inches lime base. (Started with 3.5 but it has settled over the years)(Used 2x4 for frame) My hives have screened bottom boards that I leave open except in the dead of winter to allow beetle eggs and any other harmful critter eggs to fall through and the lime will not allow eggs to pupate as earth would. I had a local wood smith install windows front and left side to supers identical to the one on right of super to allow further inspection.

I am an 80% disabled veteran being paid at 100% due to I U (Individual Unemployable) because of a severe closed head injury which has resulted in very slow motor skills, double vision and other vision difficulties. I guess I still feel lucky; I was put in a body bag and announced dead at Commanders Call the next day. Someone saw my leg move I was air cared to Jackson Memorial Hospital instead of the morgue. (I think someone prayed over me) I came to six weeks later but they failed to pass information along so it took 2 years to get any pay or retired so I could use VA yet it only took 1 year for SS. I started beekeeping with two 10 frame hives (white pine) in 2013-2014 season, lost both hives after feeding sugar and giving pollen patties all summer and fall. Both went into winter in very good condition but both died by spring.

I would have given up on the hobby as it had proven to be too much work for me to deal with except my mentor whom supplied both Nucs felt sorry for me and supplied me with another to start another hive… And I wasn’t one to give up that easy. 2014-2015 season. In talking he told me that if I used lime under hive it would not allow the critters that killed the other hives to pupate and continue doing harm but he had no proof of this. It just so happened that I had some high lime gravel left over from a previous concrete job I had done so I dumped a few scoops of gravel, placed a frame on it, pulled one of the 10 frame hive boxes along with frames that had been previously built with comb out of the freezer and started another hive. The lime must have worked because it survived the winter in good shape and I hadn’t put near the labor into it.

Later that spring God blessed me with a double hernia… 2015-2016 season It didn’t seem like a blessing at the time but God wanted me to see that His bees would do fine without all mans interference. I wasn’t able to give the attention to feedings and all that I was led to believe they needed so I figured they would die that summer. To my surprise the hive had done exceptionally well and I was even able to pull 27.5 pounds of honey off, it was exceptionally good, didn’t have all that sugary taste.

Earlier that fall of 2015 I got a text from my son that stated I should check out this thing called the “Flow Hive” invention that they had come out with in Australia. I spent several days checking it out and decided it might work in taking some of the labor out of beekeeping and ordered three; I was one of the first owners in this area. By Spring of 2016-2017 I was able to do a three way split of the double stack 10 frame brood boxes built from the Nuc that my mentor had so kindly given to me into three 8 frame western red cedar brood boxes from "Flow. I wasn’t able to do any harvest until 2017-2018 season due to my necessity to experiment have only harvested from hive #2 of 30 pounds so far, with one more harvest and still leave plenty for them to feed on this winter. I’ll have pulled 50-60 pounds off one hive. 2018-2019 season I should have all three Flow hives on line, once again creating more work than I should attempt so I am considering leasing the flow frames out for harvest as I have many other Irons I would like to get in the fire.

I am looking for someone to build me 8 frame medium boxes from western red cedar with identical windows all the way around so I can look into brood boxes and see how they are doing. (Didn’t like western red cedar at first) (Too brittle) ( till used with bees, it has proved so much easier to care for bees as I am having problems with white pine hives, (in thinking I guess I am not really having problems with white pine boxes it is just that the red cedar is so much easier) now it is only wood I’ll use for hive boxes)(Although I have entertained the thought of using eastern aromatic eastern red cedar but wonder if it would be too strong for even the bees, but this would work even better for moths and other nuisance bugs)
Blessings, Mark