Mite-Away Quick Strips 2 Treatments ( 4 strips) For Varroa of the Honey Bee.
Each dose contains 2 strips.
Perfect for the small hobbyist beekeeper! No more splitting 10 packs or worrying about how to store unused doses!
This is the first mite treatment which can be used during the honeyflow. Place two pads on top of brood frames when temperatures are between 50 and 85 degrees F. There are treatments for 2 hives in this package. Treatment period is 7 days. Pads do not need to be removed at end of treatment, but we recommend taking them out at the end of treatment period. Entrances should not be restricted or reduced during treatment. Screened bottom boards will not interfere significantly with product effectiveness. Use chemical resistant gloves and read and follow all label directions when using Mite Away Quick Strips.
Note:Using MAQS on a hive often leads to some dead bees and/or brood in front of the hive.
Varroa is a genus of parasitic mites associated with honey bees, placed in its own family, Varroidae. The genus was named for Marcus Terentius Varro, a Roman scholar who was also a beekeeper. The condition of a honeybee colony being infested with Varroa mites is called varroosis (also, incorrectly, varroatosis).
Varroa mites are recognised as the biggest pest to honeybees worldwide, and are believed to be the single largest contributing factor in the modern-day decline of honeybees, due to their ability to transmit diseases such as deformed wing virus to larval and/or pupating bees, resulting in death or severe deformity of the pupae.
Varroa mites feed off the bodily fluids of adult, pupal, and larval honey bees, and may carry viruses that are particularly damaging to the bees (e.g., deformed wings, and IAPV), and accordingly they have been implicated incolony collapse disorder. Research has indicated that alone, neither Varroa mites nor deformed wing virus are particularly deadly, yet together they can pose an incredible risk to colonies.
Varroa mites were first discovered in Java about 1904, but are now present on all continents except Australia and the Isle of Man. They were discovered in the United States in 1987, in New Zealand in 2000, and in theUnited Kingdom in 1992 (Devon).
Bee-breeding efforts to develop resistance against Varroa are ongoing. The USDA has developed a line of bees which uses Varroa-sensitive hygiene to remove reproductive mites. This line is now being distributed to beekeepers to be used as part of their integrated pest management programs.
What the industry is crying for is a “dream” miticide that effectively kills most of the mites in a hive with a single treatment, and that is safe, legal, can be used over a wide range of temperatures, is unlikely to have resistance develop, will not contaminate combs or honey, and that can be used even when honey supers are on. That is quite a wish list! The amazing thing is that a new product soon will be on the market which appears to meet all those criteria!.
The product is called the MiteAway Quick Strip, developed by beekeeper David VanderDussen. My hat is off to David for sheer perseverance! He’s been working to bring beekeeper-friendly, single-application formic products to market for some 15 years, and deserves a big “thanks!” from our industry.
It’s been a long slog to come up with a formic product that is safe and easy to apply, yet would control the release of the volatile vapors. Dr. Medhat Nasr developed the first version of the fiberboard pad in a ziplock bag in 1996, and ARS researchers filed a patent for a silica gel pad in 1997, the same year that David brought the original Mite Away pad to market. But the breakthrough moment came when David hit upon using chemistry to develop a formate ester that would more slowly release the vapors, culminating in the improved Mite Away II pad in 2004.
David VanderDussen, beekeeper and developer of the Mite Away Quick Strip.
But the MiteAway II pad still had drawbacks: inconsistent efficacy, broodnest interruption, and the danged “rim” necessary for application. No one liked the long treatment period nor the need for the return trip to remove the pads and rim.
David has solved all of the above problems by developing a gel strip with the consistency of soft gummy candy. It is composed of plant sugars, and wrapped in a tissue paper-like product that controls the rate of vapor release (Figs. 3 and 4). I am very impressed by how user-friendly the product is to handle!
Figure 3. Curious as to what a Mite Away Quick Strip smells like? You can do this simple experiment at home! Pick up a handful of carpenter ants (no need to harm them). They will emit formic acid in response to the disturbance. See Figure 4.
Figure 4. Now sniff! The formic acid smell is as intense from the ants as it is from a MAQS! I had a heckuva time taking this photo with one hand while the ants were biting me! Be careful not to inhale an ant!
The strips are thin enough to fit between the brood chambers, which puts the formic right where it can do the most good (and where the temperature is moderated by the bees). The bulk of the treatment effect occurs over the first three days, after which the rate of evaporation drops off greatly (although one can still smell formic acid in the used pads even after three weeks).
OK, the pads are handy to use, but the real beauty is that by putting them smack dab in the center of the broodnest, the fanning by the bees drives the vapors right through the brood cappings where it can kill the tiny, soft skinned, pale male and developing female mites. This was David’s “aha!” moment—if you can kill the male mites before they can mate with their sisters, then even if some females emerge, they won’t be able to reproduce!
Surprisingly, the fumigation is able to kill not only the delicate males, but even most of the hard shelled females in the brood, generally without killing many bee pupae! (Expect some brood kill, which is a reasonable price to pay for good varroa control). And then the formic acid residues simply evaporate from the hive! .
Does MAQS simply sound too good to be true? Well, did to me, too! So I begged David to allow me to test it in California (following other trials conducted in Hawaii, Florida, Texas, France and Ontario in 2009). I intentionally allowed mite levels to build up in two experimental yards, and waited while we arranged permission for a test. Finally, David happened to be passing through California on November 1st, and came over to help me to place the strips.
I ran this trial to see whether MAQS could bring down appreciable mite infestations in a typical fall situation, so I intentionally included only colonies that had what I considered to be substantial mite levels–some well above the safe fall threshold (in my opinion, fewer than 6 mites in a wash). Mite levels were dropping due to reduced fall broodrearing; however, there was sealed, and generally some open, brood in every hive, so the trial indeed tested whether MAQS could actually kill mites under the cappings. All hives were double deeps with 10 frames, of various strengths from weak to strong. Hives were mostly on screened bottoms, so I slid in Masonite inserts to close off the screens on a portion of them.
We applied the strips in the afternoon at about 65°F (18°C); bees were flying freely (see Figs. 5, 6, and 7). I was struck by how little formic acid smell there was (less than with Mite Away II pads), and can attest to the safety to the applicator at that temperature. The fumes apparently sunk downward off the strips, since the bees immediately fanned and moved out of the way as we placed the strips over the frames. We gave the control hives sham treatments of folded copy paper.
In the second yard I treated some hives with Apiguard thymol gel for comparison—about 25 g on a 3×5 card placed in the center of the broodnest. Note that both of these fumigation treatments work best when applied in the center of the broodnest, as opposed to under the hive cover.
Figure 5. Top bars of the bottom brood chamber before applying the strips. Air temperature is about 65°F (18°C).
Figure 6. David’s hand applying the first strip. Note how quickly the bees move away.
I monitored the hives for the next few days, and could smell formic acid at the entrances, but did not observe any notable adult bee mortality. The daily high temperatures during the critical first four days of outgassing climbed from 65 to 85°F (18 to 30°C) (Fig 8). However, I could still smell formic acid at the entrances after a week. I checked a few hives at Day 13—the bees appeared to be ignoring the strips. The weather turned cold (snow) toward the end of the trial, causing the bees to move into tight cluster.
Figure 8. Daily high/low temperatures (from a nearby weather station) during the trial. The weather during the first 4 days nearly covered the entire recommended range for use of the product, which is from 50-92°F (10-33°C).
Mites started dropping immediately after treatment, and by the second day there was considerable drop on the sticky boards beneath the screened bottoms. I was not interested in those counts, however—what I wanted to know was what the mite infestation of the bees would be after a complete brood cycle, so that I could see if any mites in the brood survived and emerged. I was able to take samples on Day 23, when the weather cleared (Fig. 9).
Figure 9. Actual mite counts from ~300 bees from the broodnest, alcohol wash, at start and end of the trial (divide the numbers by 3 to obtain percent infestation; the highest initial infestation was 24%). The blue bars indicate initial mite infestation; the red bars final infestation, which was lower in all colonies except one of the controls, in which the mite level went up. In several of the treated colonies, there were no mites in the 300-bee samples; final infestation exceeded 1% in only two treated hives. “Open” or “Solid” refer to screened or solid bottom boards.
Mite levels were reduced to below economic threshold levels in every single one of the treated hives (whether strong or weak), especially in the MAQS treated on solid bottoms; levels remained unacceptably high in all but one control hive. I was surprised by the good showing by the Apiguard 25 g treatment, despite the cool weather in the latter part of the trial; however note that by chance most of the Yard 2 hives started with lower mite levels.
At the endpoint (Day 23, at which all samples were taken home and blind counted), some colonies had clustered above the strips, but most clusters were either in the bottom box, or spanned boxes. The results indicate that movement of the cluster did not negatively affect the efficacy of MAQS treatment. Broodrearing had been curtailed in all groups due to environmental conditions, but was not noticeably less in the treated groups. Some colonies had started the trial small and with fairly high mite counts, so it was not surprising to still see some with rather small clusters.
All colonies appeared to be behaving normally at the end of the trial (although inspection was done on a cool day). We spotted most of the queens as we took samples, and a number of colonies had small patches of sealed brood, and some even had a bit of young brood, indicating that the queens had resumed laying midway through the trial (if they had ever stopped at all).There was no sign of excessive queen loss; the queens in the treated hives with brood looked fat and healthy; queens without brood looked expectedly small, but their behavior appeared normal. Weak colonies appeared to tolerate the strips well, despite the label recommendation of a 6-frame minimum. We observed a freshly emerged supersedure cell in one MAQS treated hive and in one very weak control colony, but this was not unexpected with the high mite levels at the start of the trial.
The take home from this trial was that MAQS were a very effective “clean up” treatment for colonies with substantial mite infestations prior to winter. I will continue to monitor the hives until they go to almonds.
I gotta say, I’m pretty impressed by MAQS! They performed well in this trial despite there being a wide range of temperature. I did not sample brood to confirm mite kill (it was confirmed in previous trials), but if any mites had survived, they should have been evident at the end of the trial.
It looks like David’s claims are well founded—MAQS could be the Silver Bullet that we’ve been waiting for! We will soon have a treatment that you can pop in, even during a honey flow (treatment doesn’t affect the honey ), and then simply walk away (the strips are biodegradable, and the bees will eventually remove them; we found that they can also be easily flipped off the frames with a hive tool). I’ve heard from some Hawaiian beekeepers that the dosage may need to be adjusted in very hot weather, as the full treatment “knocked back” colonies, but that is the normal sort of trial and error process that beekeepers are used to with any new product.
The strips unfortunately don’t come cheap—David suspects that a pair will retail in the $4-$5 range. Those of you who are gasping for breath should keep in mind the great labor savings of such an effective treatment! (I figure that it costs me a buck per hive just in labor every time I apply a treatment). Commercial beekeepers may find MAQS especially handy for August treatment while the last honey supers are on. I suspect that one fall treatment in cold-winter areas would give you varroa control until spring, or a few months protection at other times of the year (and possibly some control of nosema as a side benefit . Beekeepers who eschew synthetic chemicals could rotate MAQS with Apiguard, and perhaps an oxalic dribble, for a total cost of less than $6 per year to keep mites down! For those running mite-resistant stock, one treatment a year might (big caution here) do it.
There you have it. I would greatly appreciate feedback from commercial beekeepers anywhere on what is working, what is not, and tips and tricks for best application of any of the products.
Thanks to David VanderDussen, Stuart Volby, and Dr. Eric Mussen (who does not endorse any off-label use of any product) for fact-checking and helpful comments to the manuscript.
 Google “the learning curve part 3”
 Mitchell, D and D VanderDussen (2010) Mite-Away Quick Strip™ Mid Honey Flow Efficacy Trial. ABJ 150(5): 487-489.
For information on checking for mites, see Randy Oliver's website scientificbeekeeping.com for mite sampling methods and thresholds.
MAQS Kills Mites Where they Reproduce – Under the Cap – 90-99% Efficacy
Treat During the Honey Flow – Treatment Leaves no Residues in Wax or Honey
Mite Away Quick Strips are a Formic Acid polysaccharide gel strip for the treatment and control of Varrotosis caused by the Varroa destructor in Honey bees (Apis mellifera).