Giving acid to bees

Oxalic acid time at the apiary today. Oxalic acid is a naturally occurring acid that’s one of the beekeeper’s best weapons against the evil varroa mite – it burns their feet and they drop off the bees!

We do this treatment in December because there should be no brood now – if brood was present the acid could damage it. Also, no brood means all the mites are out on the adult bees, where we can get at them.

A group of us proceeded round the apiary one hive at the time, dribbling a pre-mixed and slightly warmed solution of 3.2% oxalic acid mixed with sugar syrup. 5ml at a time goes in-between each frame with bees on.

We had a smoker but only needed to use it on a couple of particularly feisty hives. One poor lady had her top half covered up in a jacket-style bee suit but still got stung on the legs through her trousers! I was relieved to find my bees alive and as well behaved as ever.

Dribbling the acid on a nuc:

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper who has recently moved from London to windswept, wet Cornwall. I first started keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary in 2008, when I created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully! - future successes.
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