Chemotherapy for Bees




Dread. I am filled with dread. In all the winters I have known thus far, this winter ahead will be daunting. The challenge: To keep my bees alive!                                                         Today, on a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon (the weather has just been awful for over two weeks now, cold rain everyday!) our Bee Club hosted a workshop demonstrating the Hive wrap-up and treatment of Oxalic Acid, the medication to ‘arrest’ development                                                                        of the dreaded D-E-S-T-R-U-C-T-O-R Varroa Mite.

A ‘drip by syringe’ applied between the frames was voted nay by the also wet and cold membership and we witnessed a demonstration of  ‘the vapours’. A heated wand powered by an automobile battery fried up the crystalline version of oxalic granules.  The toxic gas was inserted into the base of the hive. A few Bees were able to get the hell out of dodge by flying out, skirting the edges of the noxious plume while others trudged out on their death march. The cure for Cancer, chemotherapy, known as worse than the disease, is the analogy that came to mind.


On a happy note, I learned how to make a ‘candy board’. A paste of white granulated sugar, some water and a touch of vinegar is patted into a wood frame with a metal mesh. The hardened sheet of “candy” offers emergency food should the little creatures (those that survived the gas attack) eat themselves out of their honey stores.

The bees are already forming into balls in the hives and I can envision those fat drones providing the BTU’s. Some relief is in sight on Thursday when +10 is forecast. I will continue to provide syrup until the end of the month but I will get busy and prepare the custom fit winter cover of 2″ styrofoam @ a value of R10.                                                            Both hives are presently waterproofed with white tarps over heavy wool blankets.  There is room to innovate in this . . . profession.

fyi: Oxalic acid is like the compound found in Rhubarb leaves. Remember you are not supposed to eat Rhubarb leaves.


Photo Credit: Royal Kenyon Beeworks, Flagstaff Arizona

Author: Rita Komendant

I am an observer of the human condition, studied in Architecture. Another pilgrim of the space-time continuum. If a situation arises that needs my voice, I will engage. (thank you Tim Berners-Lee) Nature is my Temple.

3 thoughts on “Chemotherapy for Bees”

  1. I sent this to Kathy. You outdid yourself on this.


    So tired. I’m off to bed. Still reading Little Women. Charming. Upbeat. The right book. Stan home tomorrow about 9:30 a.m. Many helpers coming.



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