The combination of the concentration of formic acid and the duration of fumigation (CT product) during indoor treatments of honey bee, Apis mellifera L., colonies to control the varroa mite, Varroa destructor Anderson & Trueman, determines the efficacy of the treatment. Because high concentrations can cause queen mortality, we hypothesized that a high CT product given as a low concentration over a long exposure time rather than as a high concentration over a short exposure time would allow effective control of varroa mites without the detrimental effects on queens. The objective of this study was to assess different combinations of formic acid concentration and exposure time with similar CT products in controlling varroa mites while minimizing the effect on worker and queen honey bees. Treated colonies were exposed to a low, medium, or high concentration of formic acid until a mean CT product of 471 ppm*d in room air was realized. The treatments consisted of a long-term low concentration of 19 ppm for 27 d, a medium-term medium concentration of 42 ppm for 10 d, a short-term high concentration of 53 ppm for 9 d, and an untreated control. Both short-term high-concentration and medium-term medium-concentration fumigation with formic acid killed varroa mites, with averages of 93 and 83% mortality, respectively, but both treatments also were associated with an increase in mortality of worker bees, queen bees, or both. Long-term low-concentration fumigation had lower efficacy (60% varroa mite mortality), but it did not increase worker or queen bee mortality. This trend differed slightly in colonies from two different beekeepers. Varroa mite mean abundance was significantly decreased in all three acid treatments relative to the control. Daily worker mortality was significantly increased by the short-term high concentration treatment, which was reflected by a decrease in the size of the worker population, but not an increase in colony mortality. Queen mortality was significantly greater under the medium-term medium concentration and the short-term high concentration treatments than in controls.
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Vol. 98 • No. 6