Swedish Beekeeping and the Constant Fight Against Varroa

This was Erik Osterlund’s talk on the Saturday morning of the National Honey Show. I think this was the first lecture I attended there where there were some empty seats. Maybe people are bored with varroa.

He told us varroa is the biggest problem in beekeeping today.  He pointed out that although the cause of CCD is unknown, if there was no varroa there would be no CCD, which he suggests is a cocktail of pathogens and viruses.  John Kefuss, the American in France who initiated the Bond method of beekeeping (Live and Let Die) fears that varroa will become an endangered species as our bees learn to follow the example of Apis cerana in uncapping 84% of worker brood with varroa.

In Sweden they use Apistan and organic acids against varroa. Thymol, in the form of Apiguard, isn’t much used although it has been approved.  It’s the viruses transmitted by varroa that kill the bees. Neonicotiniods  and nosema are 1,000 times worse together than alone.  Apistan is effective but leaves residues.  It is recommended to alternate different kinds of treatment, one of which is drone brood culling and making nuclei.

Epigenetics is the new science concerning how genes in the DNA are switched on and off.

His Elgon Bee is a cross between Buckfast and Monticola, from East Africa.

In the short term one should use different miticides in different years while generally decreasing the use of chemicals and using management techniques. In the long term, one should breed resistant bees, and, as a start do something towards going treatment-free.

That’s all I can remember/decipher.


About chrissladesbeeblog

I have been keeping bees since 1978 and currently have about a dozen hives. I am a member of the BBKA where for many years I represented Dorset at the Annual Delegates' Meeting. I am the co-author (with Dave MacFawn of of S. Carolina) of "Getting the Best from Your Bees" and am working on a book of my own poems : "Bee People".
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3 Responses to Swedish Beekeeping and the Constant Fight Against Varroa

  1. Chris — We’re glad to hear that Apistan and Apiguard are used in Sweden where Vita has an excellent distributor, Joel SvenssonsVaxfabrik. However, we would like to stress that Apistan does not leave residues in honey. It can leave extremely minute residues in broodwax, but the regulatory process that Apistan has passed verifies that these tiny residues are not harmful to honeybees or man. Apiguard has only recently been passed by the Swedish regulatory authorities, so we anticipate that its use will increase and we have mounting evidence that it can work well in cooler climates.

    • Concerned have been raised about residues of synthetic pyrethroids and other chemicals in beeswax. Jennifer Berry of the University of Georgia (I think it was she) was unable to obtain chemical-free foundation anywhere in the USA. I haven’t heard anything about foundation in the UK and I wonder whether people are deliberately not looking!
      I don’t think anything is proven but people are associating contaminated wax with poorly mated queens, the assumption being that drones are firing blanks. I don’t think I have used either Bayvarol or Apistan this millennium and haven’t bought foundation for years, preferring to let the bees do their own thing with regard to cell-size etc.

  2. Hanno Houtrouw says:

    Has anyone tried Kefuss Queens ?

    Are they holding up to Varroa ?


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