Apivar vs ApiLife Var vs Apiguard

Confusion is understandable here, so below is a quick guide to these similar-sounding names:

Apivar is the trade name for a Varroa mite treatment based on the chemical amitraz. Amitraz is an acaricide/insecticide that has been around since 1969. Its chemical name is N,N’-[(methylimino)dimethylidyne]di-2,4-xylidine and is considered a “hard” chemical treatment.

ApiLife Var is the tradename for a Varroa mite treatment made from 74% thymol, which is the active ingredient. It also contains eucalyptol, menthol, and camphor. It comes in the form of a soaked biscuit and is considered a “soft” chemical treatment.

Apiguard is the tradename for a Varroa mite treatment made from 25% thymol, which is the active ingredient. It comes in a gel form and is also considered a “soft” chemical treatment.

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The best mite is a dead mite.

Comments

Jo
Reply

Do you know of a supplier for Apilife Var in Ontario, Canada?

Rusty
Reply

Jo,

I don’t, but maybe another reader does. Anyone?

Rich
Reply

Hi Rusty:

Are we relegated to treating for varroa in the autumn, after honey harvest or is it possible to do this in the spring before the honey comes in? I’ve got three new packages coming on 20 April and was wondering if I can get a head start on NOT losing them over next winter.

Also, is there a rule of thumb for a minimum distance between hives?

Thanks,
Rich

Rusty
Reply

Rich,

You can treat twice a year. In my opinion, the longer your growing season, the more often you may have to treat. It is always best to treat when you have the least amount of brood, so very early spring or late summer are best. I’ve never treated a brand new package because I’m afraid of them absconding.

No minimum distance required. They can even touch. Migratory beekeepers leave them right on the pallets and plop them down in the field or orchard.

Andrea
Reply

If you get a chance, could you talk a little bit about how you decide which treatment to use (hard vs soft)? The top- bar keepers I run across frequently seem to feel that dusting bees down with sugar is good enough, but I am dubious.

Also, is it ok to use these treatments when you’re leaving the honey in the hive for bees?

Sadly, HopGuard isn’t available in Virginia yet.

Rusty
Reply

Andrea,

I never use hard chemicals in my hives. Powdered sugar will work if you dust every frame, both sides, once a week during spring, summer, and fall. Lots of people will say they treated for mites but their hive died anyway. But keep asking questions and you will find they dusted once or twice in the fall. All that does is waste sugar, waste time, and irritate the bees. So I would say, if you have the time and self discipline to dust every week (a blower works best) then go for it.

I used to use sugar dusting, but had to stop when I got more hives. It’s just too labor intensive for my schedule. For more on this subject, see Can powdered sugar control Varroa mites?

You can use any of the treatments when the honey is not being used for human consumption. But chemicals build up in combs and can leach back into the honey, so be very wary of what you put in a hive and how often you do it. Less is always better.

Andrea
Reply

Thanks! Looks like powdered sugar may be problematic for me since I’m in the South where we specialize in humidity. I’m used to rotating dewormer for my goats on a way more stringent schedule than yearly, so rotating mite treatments is no big deal.

Lyn
Reply

Mann Lake Bee Supplies carries it.

Rusty
Reply

But can they ship it to Canada?

Gerry
Reply

There seems to be so many chemical treatments available and I’ve read of your experiences with HopGuard. What are your thoughts on Check-Mite? I don’t know anything about its active ingredient (Coumaphos), but I’ll assume that it’s considered a “hard treatment.”

Rusty
Reply

Coumaphos is the chemical contaminant found most often in wax combs. It stays in the comb year to year and can build up to levels considered hazardous to bee health. Some folks think it may have a part to play in CCD. In any case, most mite populations in the states have built up resistance to it, so it harms the bees and not the mites. I would not use it.

Gerry
Reply

Rusty,
Of the three treatments identified at the header of this post…which do you think you’ve had the best experience with in wiping out the varroa? Since the ApiLife Var has 74% Thymol it looks like it should be more effective than the Apiguard. Since the ApiLife Var contains eucalyptol, menthol, and camphor…does that mean it may be somewhat effective against the tracheal mite too?

Rusty
Reply

I have tried ApiLife Var and Apiguard. I liked ApiLife Var better, though I did have one year when it didn’t work (see Outwitting the mites).

I believe ApiLife Var is supposed to have some effect on tracheal mites. Since you’ve been out of beekeeping for a while, you may be surprised to hear that tracheal mites are not considered the threat they used to be. I hear of them only occasionally these days. Some of the labs don’t even test for them anymore. But fear not, you will not be bored—Varroa more than make up for the loss.

Ted
Reply

I am surprised you have not mentioned formic acid? Your thoughts Rusty?

Rusty
Reply

Ted,

I believe I have mentioned formic acid in other posts. It doesn’t belong in this post because here I was only comparing confusing trade names. I don’t know of a formic acid treatment that is called Api-something.

As far as formic acid as a soft-chemical treatment for Varroa, I have no issue with it. It is potent, but when used according to package directions it is effective and has the added advantage of being a natural component of honey.

Edgar Bopp
Reply

Wer hat schon mit Apivar behandelt ? Wie war das Ergebniss ? Wo ist Apivar in der EU oder Deutschland zu beziehen?
Mfg Edgar

Rusty
Reply

I don’t personally know of anyone using Apivar, although it seems very popular based on what I’ve read. I don’t know about its use in the EU or Germany.

chini
Reply

What do you recommend for bees that are declining bad and fully infested with varroa mites? In other words, weak, sad hives full of deformed wings and dead bees that can’t get out of the cell? It seems like all the treatments need strong hives in order to treat.

Rusty
Reply

Chini,

Ideally, you should treat a strong hive, but unless you do something, the hives you describe will fail completely within a very short time. Either pick a treatment and try it, or destroy these colonies and start over.

dave
Reply

I have used apivar; it works great except for the time it needs to spend in the hive. No bee lost at all in a double brood.

I’m going to try api life var, but seems odd to split the wafers. Without opening the package seems to feel granulated. Does it come in a mesh type fabric.

Rusty
Reply

Dave,

It’s weird stuff. It reminds of Styrofoam, but really thin and fragile. I find it annoying, but it works.

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