Date: Tue, 2 May 1995
From: Andy Nachbaur
Organization: Wild Bee’s BBS
Subject: varroa removing without use of pesticides
> US Magazin Science published in 1989 a report prepared by a
> french scientist group working in Labs for neurobiology in
> Bures-sur-Yvette. As explained in the report they use
> Ethylpalmitat and Methyllinolenat as active substances to allure
> varoa into a trap and subsequently eliminate them from the hive.
> The cheap and undengerous (for bees and human) substance, its
> uncomplicated application looked very attractive and promissing.
> Since then I never heared any further news on development of this
> approach to get ride of varoa.Does somebody of the BEELIST
> community has perhaps more up-to-dayt or fresh info?
I just received a video of a talk given by Dr. H. Shiminouki a few week’s ago and he talks about the USDA doing this kind of research. He did not mention these chemical’s by name, but I assume they will be looking at them. His vision was some kind of trap, like a “varroa motel”, they would check in and never check out.
I am a beekeeper, in Central California, which is on the Left Coast of the US. I have lost an increasing number of hives over the last 25 years even before the Varroa was first found. I am still having losses, last year was real bad with several yards of over 200 hives dieing out all at once, at different time’s of the year. The only difference I have seen in this loss is that today it is greater, and if the yard is infected with Varroa the last bee’s to die will have Varroa. I have suspected the real killer is a virus years before any mites were found in the US. Nobody in the US was interested and what little testing for virus that was done was actually sent abroad, so little practical experience working with bee’s and virus was done.
Shiminouki also outline in his talk the work they have at long last started with bee virus. They are years behind and I don’t expect anything soon, but there is alway’s hope and maybe with the different talent’s of the virologist at work something will develop.
There approach, as I see it, to date on the mass loss of bee’s which may not be general in the US, but is reported from many different areas depending on the year, including the feral populations, is to give the post morton symptom’s a new name “PMS”, now BPMS, stands for Post Mite Syndrome. I my opinion this is pure BS (stands for Bull Shit) and not BS (bee science), but I am only a beekeeper who has watched his own bee’s for 40+ years.
The trouble with the GI science is that they are trying to identify a pathogen after the subject is dead and this leads to more confusion then useful solutions. The symptom’s reported by the keeper’s of bee’s today are NO different then they symptom’s reported by beekeepers 80 year’s ago with the addition of mites and a new name for hives that are dead. We get only new names every ten years or so and still watch the bee’s die, alone in the field with only the beekeeper as witness. But that is no wonder since the so called Bee Lab’s are not located in any of the major beekeeping areas and no one can expect a well paid bee scientist to live in some God forsaken farm area just to document the last day’s of a bee hive. They would have to travel 50 miles to take a coffee break or find a flush toilet and might see the sun rise and set on the job.
This is no longer the American way, we have progressed to the new bureaucratic way’s. Forty hour’s a week with full benefits and plenty of time to think about it on the job, PMS is the written proof. I am not a scientist only a tired old beekeeper, but I wrote a paper in 1989 that was presented to the American Beekeepers Association that is no better or worse then the so called information on BPMS. I ran my text through a computer program that indicated it was written by someone with a 12th grade education, I won’t embarrass anyone with what the same program reported the USDA PMS paper to be, I thought my own should have rated higher to. The beekeeper’s and taxpayer’s of the United States should not have to pay for these kind of report’s or the research to do them. Any high school biology teacher or interested student could do as well. In my opinion they are only hype and PR and are self serving to the agency involved.
I want to know what is going on and I don’t want to find it out from some dusty chemical sale’s person who’s company had inside information so his company to could use that information to make some big buck’s because it’s better then a few beekeeper’s misusing the same information to save their bee’s. If this is the way it is, or is going to be then I will re-examine my position on supporting any beekeeping research by the government. If the benefits of USDA research on Varroa mite to date is going to the manufactures of the products to control them let the manufacture pay for the research at his own lab.
It is evident that what research they are doing they have NOT shared with the public or USDA, or we would be able to produce our own strips or formulation’s out of whatever material’s at a fraction of the cost beekeeper’s now pay. A few pennies of active material incorporated in a low cost carrier should not cost more the a few pennies. It’s no wonder beekeeper’s around the world are using other methods not approved by governments, when governments, science and regulatory agency’s are one in the same and work hand in hand with the chemical companies. What kind of science can one produce if the scientist wares two hats, and one of those hat’s is that of a politician who bends in the wind’s, not the wind’s of change but the wind’s of strength..the strong wind’s seldom come from the beekeeper’s. The proof is that there are other products, materials, and chemicals, tested by many that we could be using, yet they can not be used because of bureaucratic red tape.
It is the easy way out to give the same symptom’s of dead bee hives a new name each time it show’s up in a different area or different year. This is not science but the GI name game and has become part of the problem and not part of the solution. Beekeeper’s are losing their bee’s they need to know from what and what to do to prevent that loss, and are not interested in going around and telling the world that our losses fit the symptoms of bPMS according to the best scientific minds in the US government.
I do support beekeeping research and have worked to see it enlarged and continued, and I will continue to do so, but I must admit it is easy to see why Bee Research in the USA may be in trouble. And I don’t believe for a minute it is because beekeeper’s have not shown the interest in bee research. If anything it the fact that the research lab’s are not able to define their own role’s to fill a public need and mostly operate in a climate of political uncertainties. Especially so in the light that so many hobby and small beekeepers have followed the “best” advice and recommendation’s of the government to keep their bee’s healthy only to have them die anyway. These are not the dumb people that some would make them out to be, and in reviewing the tape of Dr. Shiminuki, any can see that discussion of “positive stress” factor’s is only a language trap as the combination of words fly’s in the face of the real world. Especially since on the whole the best USDA recommendation’s are to control one or more of the stress’s from a list of many. Beekeeper’s have been doing that since I have been around and are still losing bee’s.
I believe that we in the US have had our head’s held in the sand for too long and if we want to have healthy bee’s we better be looking for areas in the world that have healthy bee’s or bee’s that survive to spite all known problems and bring in that stock and the information on how it is being used by beekeepers, to add to our own tired gene pool or we risk losings it all in a short time. The few introduction’s so far have added nothing to the big picture, and more then that is coming in ala natural through our boarder’s which have been quarantine against bee’s for generations and most of that which could be used is being destroyed.
To think that we can change what we have by one or two regulated introduction’s in a lifetime is just plain poor thinking and can not be demonstrated at any level in the field. I have tried much of the so called improved commercial stock available and they all die just as dead as the natural stock. There is no practical difference between any of the bee’s available today in the US outside of color and the quality that comes with good rearing conditions and bee breeder experience. Some people have a talent and are able to apply it in the right rearing areas, other’s try and fail. All have some failures…
I would very much like to hear if you know of any large scale loss of bee’s in your area, and if these losses have continued or have more or less come and gone or have continued or increased? Does not have to be in total number’s of hives, but I am interested in total bee yard’s that die out in spite of the efforts of the beekeeper, minimal or not. Feral population’s count’s of many year’s would be useful. To count them now or study them now is interesting and of great value, but the horse has long left the barn.
BTW For the record I have yet to treat a hive for Varroa and do not look forward to treating hives for Varroa or any other mite. If that day comes that I have to get on the pesticide tread mill to be a keeper of bee’s all will know my day has come and gone as a beekeeper. Some will say I have reach that point.
“Pesticides may have been the final solution in 1940, God forbid they become the final solution to keeping my own bee’s healthy.”
(c)Permission to reproduce, granted. Opinions are not necessarily facts.