Formic acid treatment for the control of the ectoparasitic varroa mite, Varroa destructor Anderson & Trueman, infesting honey bee, Apis mellifera L., colonies is usually carried out as an in-hive outdoor treatment. This study examined the use of formic acid on wintered colonies kept indoors at 5°C from 24 November 1999 to 24 March 2000. Colonies were placed in small treatment rooms that were not treated (control) or fumigated at three different concentrations of formic acid: low (mean 11.9 ± 1.2 ppm), medium (mean 25.8 ± 1.4 ppm), or high (mean 41.2 ± 3.3 ppm), for 48 h on 22–24 January 2000. Queen bee, worker bee, and varroa mite mortality were monitored throughout the winter, and tracheal mite, Acarapis woodi (Rennie), prevalence and mean abundance of nosema, Nosema apis Zander, spores were assessed. This study revealed that formic acid fumigation of indoor-wintered honey bees is feasible and effective. The highest concentration significantly reduced the mean abundance of varroa mites and nosema spores without increasing bee mortality. Tracheal mite prevalence did not change significantly at any concentration, although we did not measure mortality directly. The highest concentration treatment killed 33.3% of queens compared with 4.8% loss in the control. Repeated fumigation periods at high concentrations or extended fumigation at low concentrations may increase the efficacy of this treatment method and should be tested in future studies. An understanding of the cause of queen loss and methods to prevent it must be developed for this method to be generally accepted.
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Vol. 97 • No. 2