Sugar Dusting. Yes or No?

Beekeeping Forum

Help Support Beekeeping Forum:

Do you treat varroa mites with sugar dusting?


  • Total voters
    47
  • Poll closed .
Status
Not open for further replies.

Ice509 

New Bee
Joined
May 8, 2021
Messages
52
Reaction score
9
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
2
Welcome Ice509.

I am a hard core non treater. But I found icing sugar ineffective. It knocks a few phoretic mites off, but doesn't deal with the real problem, the ones breeding in the brood nest.

The "trick" seems to be to let the bees do their own thing, as thwy have been handling parasites for millions of years. So:
- Use local Irish bees, they're great
- Allow swarming (brood break)
- Avoid stimulative, ie essentially all, feeding, unless you are a migratory beekeeper

PM me if you want more info

Haven't seen that book, thanks for the pointer
Sorry I'm too new. Can someone tell me how to PM?
:unsure:
 

Ice509 

New Bee
Joined
May 8, 2021
Messages
52
Reaction score
9
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
2
Welcome.
This is a minefield.
I hope you don’t mind if I move your post to it’s own thread.
The reasons might become obvious sooner or later.
You were quite right!!
 

Gilberdyke John 

Queen Bee
Joined
May 5, 2013
Messages
4,190
Reaction score
509
Location
HU15 East Yorkshire
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
10
I am using a 4 to 1 ratio of garlic powder. I got 'Equestrian garlic' that is organic and food grade on eBay. Food PURA® GARLIC Powder 5KG Bag Fresh - HORSE & PONY Supplements FOOD Grade 7109324356534 | eBay That's a 5 kg, but you can get smaller amounts.
I stopped feeding garlic to my horses having looked into the effects and finding this information.
TOXIC EFFECTS OF GARLIC FOR HORSES
There is a toxic element in Garlic called N-propyl disulfide which can change an enzyme within a horse's red blood cells, it depletes the cell of a chemical known as phosphate dehydrogenase - whose task is to protect the blood cells from damage caused by oxidation

Researchers fed a healthy horse 1 lb of onion tops, which also contain N-propyl disulfide, over an 11 day period. By the 11th day the horse had lost almost 60% of his red blood cells and was severely anaemic!

Some vets claim that the toxic effects of garlic are gradual - a low dose fed on a regular basis can result in mild anemia.
 

Hebeegeebee 

Queen Bee
Joined
Dec 4, 2008
Messages
2,046
Reaction score
73
Location
S.E. Norfolk
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
12 on a good day, often more..
Icing sugar dusting has fallen out of favour on here. However some people have used icing sugar dusting and it has worked for them, so there's no reason to not have a go and write up the conclusions. If the conclusions confirm other studies, so well and good.
 

madasafish 

Queen Bee
Joined
Apr 10, 2010
Messages
9,817
Reaction score
1,099
Location
Stoke on Trent
Hive Type
langstroth
Number of Hives
6 to 8 Langstroth jumbos, a few Langstroth and National nucs.
When I was using Nicot to raise queens, if I had surplus (uncapped) cells left - and I almost always did - I dusted them with icing sugar to kill them.

Just for information.
 

IndiBee 

House Bee
Joined
Mar 6, 2021
Messages
111
Reaction score
118
Location
Vosges Mountains France & Cambrian Mountains Wales
I went down the rabbit hole with this one.
Ended up finding Randy Olivers website where he really did do quite extensive research on the matter.
The final word seems to be a paper written 9 March 2017: Fakhimzadeh, Ellis and Hayes (2011) Physical control of varroa mites (Varroa destructor): the effects of various dust materials on varroa mite fall from adult honey bees (Apis mellifera) in vitro. Journal of Apicultural Research 50(3): 203-211.
The researchers found that the type of dust makes a big difference! Their own summary of their findings:

In conclusion, we present three major findings in our study:


  1. The powdered materials we used to promote varroa fall from adult bees varied in varroa fall efficacy, possibly due to particle size, particle characteristics, and / or ambient conditions;
  2. Exposed powdered sugar, like that used most commonly by beekeepers, had a low varroa fall efficacy; and
  3. Some of the tested materials resulted in increased bee mortality, suggesting that control of varroa with dusts is not innocuous to honey bees. Collectively, the data suggest that vacuum collected sugar and ground sugar would be the most promising as field controls for varroa as they promoted high mite fall from adult bees and low adult bee mortality.

Off-the-shelf confectioner’s powdered sugar appears to be the best. Finer grinds, although they resulted in better mite drop, also appeared to cause greater bee mortality. And you’d want to avoid confectioner’s sugar that uses anything other than corn starch as a caking agent (their results should also quell the unsubstantiated concern that the corn starch harms the bees). The dusting sugar also needs to be kept very dry once the package is opened.

Humidity may well be be a limiting factor in sugar dust efficacy–we may get better results in low-humidity California summers than would beekeepers in humid states.

They found that Slovenian powdered sugar (which was the most effective at dropping varroa), was unfortunately quite toxic to adult bees! They presumed that the toxicity was due to the added anticaking agents dicalcium phosphate and silicon dioxide. This is surprising, since the first is a common animal food additive as a mineral source, and the second is made from finely ground quartz, and normally considered to be inert.

 

Erichalfbee 

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
22,032
Reaction score
3,744
Location
Ceredigion
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
7
I went down the rabbit hole with this one.
Ended up finding Randy Olivers website where he really did do quite extensive research on the matter.
The final word seems to be a paper written 9 March 2017: Fakhimzadeh, Ellis and Hayes (2011) Physical control of varroa mites (Varroa destructor): the effects of various dust materials on varroa mite fall from adult honey bees (Apis mellifera) in vitro. Journal of Apicultural Research 50(3): 203-211.
The researchers found that the type of dust makes a big difference! Their own summary of their findings:

In conclusion, we present three major findings in our study:


  1. The powdered materials we used to promote varroa fall from adult bees varied in varroa fall efficacy, possibly due to particle size, particle characteristics, and / or ambient conditions;
  2. Exposed powdered sugar, like that used most commonly by beekeepers, had a low varroa fall efficacy; and
  3. Some of the tested materials resulted in increased bee mortality, suggesting that control of varroa with dusts is not innocuous to honey bees. Collectively, the data suggest that vacuum collected sugar and ground sugar would be the most promising as field controls for varroa as they promoted high mite fall from adult bees and low adult bee mortality.

Off-the-shelf confectioner’s powdered sugar appears to be the best. Finer grinds, although they resulted in better mite drop, also appeared to cause greater bee mortality. And you’d want to avoid confectioner’s sugar that uses anything other than corn starch as a caking agent (their results should also quell the unsubstantiated concern that the corn starch harms the bees). The dusting sugar also needs to be kept very dry once the package is opened.

Humidity may well be be a limiting factor in sugar dust efficacy–we may get better results in low-humidity California summers than would beekeepers in humid states.

They found that Slovenian powdered sugar (which was the most effective at dropping varroa), was unfortunately quite toxic to adult bees! They presumed that the toxicity was due to the added anticaking agents dicalcium phosphate and silicon dioxide. This is surprising, since the first is a common animal food additive as a mineral source, and the second is made from finely ground quartz, and normally considered to be inert.

Post 18
 

plain_hunt 

New Bee
Joined
Apr 12, 2011
Messages
63
Reaction score
35
Location
Somerset
Hive Type
14x12
Yes I will be, except of course during a 3-week break after swarm control.
I use icing sugar every time I go through my bees, and find I quite often don’t need to treat in Autumn, but you do need to keep an eye on varroa levels using the bottom board. I do always do it in particular after swarm control though, as one hive is virtually broodless, so any mites are phoretic and I’m aiming on reducing those whilst they can’t breed.
 

oliver90owner 

Queen Bee
Joined
Jul 15, 2009
Messages
15,815
Reaction score
227
Location
Lincolnshire
Hive Type
14x12
Icing sugar dusting is, frankly, a useless occupation. The only time I have sugar ‘dusted’ is when rolling the whole colony in icing sugar and then running the bees back into the hive, while there was no capped brood. A quick oxalic sublimation woud likely mop up nearly all of any remaining mites. Note I said nearly all - it might get all of them but there will soon be some arriving shortly, even if you do.

All sugar dusting might achieve is to maintain the mite level, unless the colony has a severe loading - when an alternative course of action would most certainly be needed. Get real.
 

Ice509 

New Bee
Joined
May 8, 2021
Messages
52
Reaction score
9
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
2
Take a look at this link. Bottom half!

 

Ice509 

New Bee
Joined
May 8, 2021
Messages
52
Reaction score
9
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
2
I use icing sugar every time I go through my bees, and find I quite often don’t need to treat in Autumn, but you do need to keep an eye on varroa levels using the bottom board. I do always do it in particular after swarm control though, as one hive is virtually broodless, so any mites are phoretic and I’m aiming on reducing those whilst they can’t breed.
I would think that would be the case with most colonies depending on the mite infestation.
 

Ice509 

New Bee
Joined
May 8, 2021
Messages
52
Reaction score
9
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
2
I use icing sugar every time I go through my bees, and find I quite often don’t need to treat in Autumn, but you do need to keep an eye on varroa levels using the bottom board. I do always do it in particular after swarm control though, as one hive is virtually broodless, so any mites are phoretic and I’m aiming on reducing those whilst they can’t breed.
Do you have the book I mentioned earlier? 'Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture' by Ross Conrad. A book I can't over recommend!
 

Silver 

New Bee
Joined
Jun 23, 2020
Messages
19
Reaction score
5
Location
Saltdean, Brighton
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
2
Well good on you for trying - we all rely on chemicals to sort our Bees out - and there must be naturally occouring things that can do the same job.
 

pargyle 

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Oct 16, 2012
Messages
12,816
Reaction score
2,855
Location
Fareham, Hampshire UK
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
6
Well good on you for trying - we all rely on chemicals to sort our Bees out - and there must be naturally occouring things that can do the same job.
There is ... it's called Oxalic acid....

As a non-treater (for a few years now - since I started beekeeping) I looked at sugar dusting as a potential treatment but, frankly, for the little efficacy in terms of yield and the requisite disruption from dumping icing sugar over the bees at weekly intervals (less than this reduces the effectiveness to be almost worthless) I decided that it was largely useless and so invasive that my bees would suffer. There's a case that would suggest treating your bees with icing sugar is counter productive, what little benefit is derived from reducing varroa (and only those not in the cells) is outweighed by the stress and discomfort inflicted on the colony by the process.

I would not like any new or inexperienced beekeepers to be influenced by any suggestion that dusting with icing sugar is a viable option.

If you want to treat your bees and are looking for a 'natural' treatment that has little disturbing effect on the bees with a very effective reduction in varroa levels .... look up Oxalic Acid by sublimation and keep the icing sugar for your cakes.
 

Frizzaldo 

New Bee
Joined
May 23, 2018
Messages
58
Reaction score
41
Location
n/a
Hive Type
none
We've had several new members join our association and instantly want to not treat their bees, most suffer losses and probably raise the varroa levels in the area.
I would suggest getting a few more years under your belt keeping bees before starting experiments.
Learn to walk before you run..
 
Joined
Aug 18, 2016
Messages
50
Reaction score
52
Location
Cheshire, UK
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
6
Icing sugar dusting is, frankly, a useless occupation. The only time I have sugar ‘dusted’ is when rolling the whole colony in icing sugar and then running the bees back into the hive, while there was no capped brood. A quick oxalic sublimation woud likely mop up nearly all of any remaining mites. Note I said nearly all - it might get all of them but there will soon be some arriving shortly, even if you do.

All sugar dusting might achieve is to maintain the mite level, unless the colony has a severe loading - when an alternative course of action would most certainly be needed. Get real.
Isn’t some research beginning to show something about colonies that are good at grooming correlate with healthier, less mite infested bees? So would icing sugar not encourage that trait? Just asking, don’t bite my head off please!
 

Erichalfbee 

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
22,032
Reaction score
3,744
Location
Ceredigion
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
7
We've had several new members join our association and instantly want to not treat their bees, most suffer losses and probably raise the varroa levels in the area.
I would suggest getting a few more years under your belt keeping bees before starting experiments.
Learn to walk before you run..
That’s what I tell all beginners. Learn about basic beekeeping then play with your bees.
pargyle has never treated his bees but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to work hard at keeping the bees healthy
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top