Midnite Bee-Beekeeper's: Tips TIPS  

Now that menthol has been approved for use in the treatment of tracheal mites in honeybees, we would like to furnish you with sufficient information so that you treat your bees properly and get the maximum benefits out of the treatment procedure.

1) Menthol: What is it? Menthol is a food product that is pharmaceutically pure and is used to flavor foods, in over the Counter medications, cosmetics, personal care aids and prescription drugs. It is 99.9994 percent pure.

2) Physical Properties: The physical properties of menthol are; it exists in a crystalline state and starts to evaporate at approximately 70 degrees F and will melt to a liquid at approximately 102-105 degrees F. The vapors which start to come off the crystals at 70 degrees F are heavier than air and tend to settle down into tho hive. 'I"liv best evaporation rate for menthol is between 80 and 85 degrees F.

3) How Does It Work? It is believed that menthol is breathed by the honeybees into the trachea tube. When it comes in contact with the tracheal mite, it either affects the mite's nervous system or it robs the mite of oxygen and smothers the mite. The exact way that the menthol vapors kill the tracheal -mite has not been proven at this time. It is known, due to the life-cycle of the mite that the menthol vapors have to be breathed continually for a minimum of fifteen days by the honeybees in order to be an effective treatment for the tracheal mite. It is also known that sufficient vapors must be present in the hive for this to be accomplished. This is why the recommended dosage used to treat a hive, is 50 grams or 1.8 ounces. We also understand that the bees do not like this vapor in the hive and will try to ventilate the vapor from the hive by fanning. It is our recommendation that these instructions be followed as closely as possible for effective treatment for tracheal mites and efficient use of the expenditure invested in this treatment.

1) The hive of bees should be in one hive body deep or two hive bodies deep at the most. are trying to fill this chamber with a gas and the smaller you can make tile area, the more ef- fective the treatment will be.

2)The entrance reducer should be set down to the smallest opening to help contain the vapors of menthol within the hive. As we stated, the vapors are heavier than air and will want to settle out through the entrance of the hive if it is in its wide open position.

3)There should be no honey flow on or honey supers on the hive during the treatment and all treatments should take place at least two weeks prior to any honey flow.

4)The outside temperature of the hive should be at least 65 degrees F. During brood rearing the inside temperature will be significantly higher than this, and Should allow for adequate vaporization.

5)The correct amount of menthol per treatment should be 1.9 ounces or 50 grams. It has been determined that this amount will give sufficient vapors to adequately control the tracheal mite. (A rounded 1/3 measuring cup is very close to the 1.8 oz amount.)

6) The package should be placed in the top box of the brood chamber and on top of the top bars,either over the cluster (in cool to moderate weather) or off to one side (during very hot weather). The packet of menthol should be arranged so that the menthol pellets are spread out over the largest surface area possible within the packet. Do not bunch up the menthol pellets to one side of the packet. The further they can be spread out the more effectively the evaporation rate will be.

7)This packet should be left on the hive for a minimum of 15 days, however, it can be left on for a period of 20-25 days with no ill effect. After that time, the packet can be retrieved and any menthol that is left in the packet can be saved and used again for further treatments as long as the total amount of menthol used in this further treatment is 50 grams or 1.8 ounces.

Not all the menthol will evaporate in this 20-25 day period. Tile bees will tend to propolize this bag and this is a natural occurrence. Care must be taken when retrieving these bags after treatment period so as not to tear the bag allowing the menthol to spill down into the hive and onto the developing brood. After the menthol is retrieved, it can be stored in an air-tight container. It should be stored at less than 70 degres F.

8)The best time to treat for tracheal mites is in the Springtime when the weather is warm and in the Fall of the year immediately after taking off your honey. It is essential that bees that are going to be over- wintered be treated in the Fall of the year for tracheal mites.