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Treat for varroa after swarm?


My hive just threw off a swarm on Sunday. There are plenty of bees left but my mite levels are very high. I was told that since I’m now probably queenless that my hive should self-treat for varroa since there will be a broodless period coming up. But my mite levels are much higher than my treatment threshold and I’m seeing evidence of deformed wing virus (DWV). I could throw in a single Mite Away Quick Strip (although I just did a major inspection and reconfiguration and the MAQS people advise waiting three days before treatment).

Given the advice above about a broodless period is mite treatment required/advised? Is there is a chance that my old queen is still around? Obviously I didn’t see her in my inspection. I haven’t seen her for months!

Here is an interactive chart of my ongoing mite data based on mite fall on the SBB. And here’s a screenshot:

… I know many people are going to say that counting mites this way isn’t a good indicator of actual mite levels. But I would hope that my consistency and volume of data collection makes up for it.

Would treating for mites now hurt my colony’s chances of re-queening? Or is the mite infestation more of a threat to their survival? This question is assuming my old queen has flown away.

Thank you!



I would OAV three times at five day intervals.
Far less disruption that way.
The hive will not be broodless for nearly a month and they are close to collapse looking at your mite drops so I would get going straight away if they were my bees.
If they swarmed then they would have left with a queen of some kind
You had a good look through…are there any queen cells?



I’d second Dee’s advice ! Get vaporing … Mites that high in the chart sure ain’t good. Not about MAGs … I use those in the late summer or early autumn.

Wow ! Must be mild there in Berkley … Those bees been brewing to swarm for awhile. With all those mite checks n mild Wx you didn’t pull a frame or two to see how the girls were doing ?! Well, get the colony treated immediately. That’s was my mistake last late summer n I lost two hives to mites. Not fun !

In the future … If temps are up I’d be more than incline to a deeper inspection more often n maybe a split … But now … First things first … Don’t hesitate !! That will up their survival chance !! We’re all learning ! I’d better check mine again too …

Good luck bro,


Thanks for the input everyone!

I suppose I’ll treat with MAQS today since this is the last non-rainy day in a week. MAQS because that’s what I have on hand.

The remaining question: Do I do two strips at once or one strip a week apart? Will more brood loss to the treatment have a detrimental effect on requeening? or will the risk of not treating for mites effectively have more risk to survival?


I agree with @Dee and @Gerald_Nickel, you need to treat, but I would not use MAQS. They are well-known to be pretty hard on queens anyway, and you can’t afford to lose a queen at this time in the season - commercial queens are not going to be readily available for another month or two yet. Randy Oliver specifically states that formic acid (the active ingredient in MAQS) should not be used in compromised or weak hives.

My first choice would be Oxalic Acid vaporization as Dee describes - 3 treatments at 5 day intervals. If you don’t have the equipment for this, and you don’t want to invest in it, you still have other choices.

The second would be an “illegal” but safe treatment, using oxalic acid dissolved in glycerin. This mixture is then used to soak paper “shop” towels (very strong paper towels), and they are draped in the hive much like MAQS. It is not officially approved, but it would be easy on the bees and the queen, and should be very effective. Here is Rusty Burlew’s account of it:

My third choice would be Apivar strips. They are not visibly hard on the bees. They are very effective against varroa (for now). However, they do contain a chemical which is not natural, and is unacceptable to some people.

Whatever you do, don’t delay too long. I agree with Dee, those counts are very worrying, especially if you are seeing DWV too - not a good sign at all.


I was thinking the oxide vapor method Dawn. I’ve got the MAGS in frig but was totally leaning to vaporing myself !

Thankz my dear friend. I can trust you to guide this Newbee in this new challenge of mite critters ! I plan on adding a white sheet if the rain will stop long enough.

Ta Ta,

BTW… :heart:️ Happy :rose: Valentine’s Day late !

Gave these to My Honey yesterday n today is her birthday.



That OA/gly treatment sounds great but I’m 95% sure I won’t be able to pull off that operation myself today. If the option is MAQS or no treatment I’m guessing MAQS is preferable, yes? I’ll read over the instructions for OA/gly and see if it’s possible.

Thanks again!



Not for me. I would rather leave them untreated for a few days while I arranged one of the other treatments. If you look at this article, you will see how hard MAQS can be on queens. Near the bottom, there are a few paragraphs that begin with a very convincing reason not to use MAQS
"In the single MAQS/MAQS treatment, 3 colonies lost their queens; 2 then successfully requeened themselves, but one went queenless. In the MAQS/Tpad one queen was lost, and the colony was unsuccessful at requeening itself. One queen was lost in both the Control and thymol pad treatment groups. Despite being treated at only half dose of MAQS, there was still a degree of queen loss from the formic acid treatments."

P.S. There were 12 hives in each treatment group, so that is a 25% queen mortality. Now, I would never play Russian roulette, which has a lower chance of dying, so I am not going to do that to my queens either! :smile:


I made the oa/gly strips! Question is do I put it between box 1 and 2 or
between box 2 and 3. They all have brood in them. The instructions say “on
top of the bottom box” but they don’t specify number of boxes and different


If you are using shop towels, you put them on top of the lowest brood box. That way, most bees will walk past them. If you are using soaked egg carton cardboard strips, I would put 3 in the lower box and 3 in the next one up.

If you are referring to “strips” it seems that you may not have read Randy’s article. It doesn’t really matter, what you have made should work just fine. Here is the full article, just for completeness:


In any case, I deeply respect you for not risking the lives of your bees with formic acid. :blush: Thank you for making the extra effort.

P.S. Any super that you have in place should probably not be used for human consumption. It will likely be perfectly safe, but if you want to be sure, just save that crop for the bees.



By “stirps” i mean whole sheets of shop cloths as described in the article. It took all day to try to research and find all the ingredients. If anyone else is interested in trying this apparently Savogran Wood Bleach has been used and has worked for other people whether or not it’s 100% oxalic acid. And “Beauty360 pure glycerin” should be pretty close to pure since google says: “When marketed as a pure oil, it is often referred to as vegetable glycerin oil and must contains at least 99.7 percent glycerol to be considered pure, as the rest is water”. The other option I found was a glycerine based suppository hemorrhoid treatment but making the requisite 25ml from tiny capsules would be a real pain in the a$$ :slight_smile:

Mite fall today measured substantially lower than yesterday but still almost double my treatment threshold. It’ll be interesting to compare this treatment with MAQS.


That is a fantastic effort, very nicely done! Sorry it took so long, but these kind of ventures teach us all the reality of beekeeping. You have definitely had your determination tested, and what an impressive result. Your bees are lucky to have you. :blush:


So glad you are trying this. There is a lot of talk here in the uK about using this method.

Yes please keep us updated. I would love to see your mite drops (not that I’m glad you have mites…don’t get me wrong)


A follow up question regarding the oa/gly treatment - the document Dawn_SD linked to above states the following:

Practical application: beekeepers have been looking for an inexpensive, fairly rapid acting, easy to apply miticide that doesn’t leave residues in the combs or the honey, and that doesn’t slow colony growth or harm the queen. Oxalic acid dissolved in glycerin, applied on a removable substrate, appears to fit the bill. Applied on a shop towel, it causes immediate mite kill, and then continues to kill mites over a period of a month—spanning approximately two varroa reproductive cycles.

This seems to indicate that this treatment does not affect the honey stores in the hive in terms of human consumption. Dawn_SD, you cautioned otherwise. Is there any more recent research on this?


Not that I am aware of. However, oxalic acid is only approved as a treatment for varroa when there are no honey supers on the hive, and the supers must remain off the hive for 2 weeks after the end of treatment:



Ok, so don’t mix oxalic acid and honey. would you think it ok to have empty
flow frames on the hive during treatment? The bees are currently working on
finishing off the frames with their own wax. Would be nice to have the
frames nectar-ready when the flow starts and the oa/gly treatment is over.
But it would also be nice not to poison myself.



Honestly, all I can say is that I don’t know of any evidence one way or the other. There are photos online of Randy Oliver apparently licking oxalic acid residues from his fingers and he comments that it tastes like really potent lemonade. Having said that, I would not have even an empty super on the hive myself until the end of treatment.

I understand that this may cause some conflict with the start of your nectar flow. For myself, I have some medium supers available, and if I was going to have to treat during a nectar flow, I would put one of those on and then reserve them as food for the bees in Fall and Winter after the treatment had finished. I think 2 weeks on the Brushy site is a very conservative/safe wait time. For personal consumption, I would be happy with one week. For selling honey, I guess I would feel compelled to comply with the label requirements.


I’ve treated with traditional supers on and I’m still here


Interesting that a few years prior Randy said this about MAQS

“Reports of excessive queen loss due to treatment appear to be largely unfounded, provided that the product is applied properly. Further communication with the affected beekeepers revealed that the natural queen loss rate of surrounding beekeepers during the same time period (but who hadn’t treated) was also unusually high.”


Also, in his newer article the you posted (@Dawn_SD) , the temperature was above 90 degrees and the max temp to use MAQS is 85. From other articles I have read, the queen loss is mostly from higher temperature application because the formic acid gets too intense.

I used MAQS last Fall the end of Sept and beginning of Nov. I purposely waited for temps to be cooler and no highs over 85 degrees. I did it with 4 hives and I had no queen losses. Maybe I was lucky or maybe it is highly dependent on the temperature during application.

It does seem riskier than other mite control products but it has a few advantages as well like using it with honey supers on and it is one of the only methods that kills mites under the brood cappings.

Just more info