Should I treat a new package of honey bees with Oxalic Acid?

Should I treat my package Bees with Oxalic acid? Short answer is we don’t recommend it.

Now for the lists of pros and cons. First off, O.A. is a great mite treatment when no brood is present. (we like it as a late season treatment) We also know that it is important to start with low levels of mites, populations grow exponentially, so early control in general is best. Now for the downside, dose makes the poison. Too much or two frequent treatments can have an impact on bee health. A package is a pretty confined space with a very low number of bees. Generally speaking, most people will not go to the effort to calibrate haw much they need and this is defiantly not a case where if a little is good, a lot is better. University recommendations are that if you treat them, you leave them in the package for two days.  While that is possible, we want you to get them out and working as soon as possible.  We bring them in on a schedule so that they are ready to go home with you! The other thing to consider that mites are present in two places, on the bees and in the brood. With a package you have no brood, so only a limited number survive the transfer. We also know that a break in the brood cycle is a great way to reduce varroa mites. They are experiencing a brood break, A few days in the package, a few days before the queen is laying and about 5 more days before larva is capped off. You have a window of 5 days to treat during which mites have no place to hide.  Rather than O.A.  I would suggest at day 5 following the queen being released you do a powered sugar treatment. This will have a pretty minor impact on the bees and will be just about as effective. If you are on a screened bottom board you will be able to count mites and see if any more follow-up is needed.  We generally don’t do any of this and just sample the colony for mites at about 1-2 months. The breeders we work with do a great job managing their bees, and raising quality queens.  Focus your energy early season on food, and getting the house built. The rest of the season you will focus on mite management!

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