HopGuard: update

Since I last wrote about HopGuard it has become available through Mann Lake Ltd. If you are interested in ordering it, you must first confirm that your state has a Section 18 Emergency Exemption for the product. You can call your state Department of Agriculture or Mann Lake (800-880-7694) for this information. The active ingredient in HopGuard is hop beta acids.

This is the first of two “natural” miticides due to be released this year. The other, Mite-Away Quick Strips, is scheduled to be released this spring—after some lengthy registration delays. The active ingredient in Mite-Away Quick Strips is formic acid, a substance that occurs naturally in honey, although in very small quantities.

YouTube videos giving usage instructions are available for both HopGuard and Mite-Away Quick Strips.

One interesting point of comparison is the price. HopGuard requires 2 strips for every ten frames of colony. So a double deep requires four strips per treatment. At $30 for 50 strips, that is $2.40 per hive. Mite-Away will require 2 pads per colony per treatment. At $48 for 10 pads (Brushy Mountain price), that is $9.60 per hive.

Conveniently, that comes out to exactly four times the price for Mite-Away as for HopGuard per treatment. Is Mite-Away four times more effective than HopGuard? That is hard to imagine. For me personally, I feel more comfortable with both the HopGuard instructions and price. I couldn’t find much on how either product works, but I will continue to dig and let you know what I find.


P.S. If you live in Washington State, pesticides approved for mites can be found here.


  • Just want to point out that it’s $2.40 per hive PER TREATMENT. If you use 3 treatments in 3 weeks (recommended) that’s actually $7.20 per hive.

  • Good morning Rusty –

    Having a very worrying morning and wanted to ask your advice. My colony is just about at full strength and ready for the honeyflow, which has started here in VA. I was planning to put on the honey super next week, and did a final alcohol wash, which ended up hitting the varroa threshold. Wanted a quick treatment to knock them down, so yesterday I put in Mite Away Quick Strips for the 7-day treatment. This was my first time using them and I followed the instructions to the letter and even watched a video on placing the strips.

    Later yesterday I noticed my bees acting drunk – especially the drones. This morning I went out and appear to have over a hundred dead bees on the ground in front of the hive which weren’t there yesterday (and is much higher than a few bodies drug out and dumped each day), and a lot of bees sitting in what appears to be a stupor on the landing board (and a few bodies which have been drug out this morning). I know the formic acid fumes are powerful, and made sure my entrance was wide open and the bottom board was out for max ventilation, so is this reaction normal? I couldn’t find anything online mentioning it. If this behavior/death continues through today I’m tempted to pull the strips, because I don’t want a couple thousand dead bees by the end of the week. Advice? I feel like I somehow may be killing my colony! Thanks!

    • Stosh,

      Any bad reaction will lesson as the formic acid dissipates, so it will probably look less bad today.

      Remember also that a full-size hive loses about 1000 bees per day in spring and summer. The formic may have killed off the ones that were marginal and weak and would have died soon anyway. Ultimately, the mites will do much more damage than the formic.

  • Yes, I actually ended up calling the manufacturer. They said expect “1 to 2 cups” of dead bees over the first few days – mainly the older bees, although I seem to be noticing a disproportionately high number of drones in the mix. I know it’s for the greater good, but I’m still uncomfortable with it, in the same manner I prefer to do multiple less-accurate sugar rolls over one more-accurate alcohol wash that kills 300 bees. I guess it’s related to being a military commander… you never like to do anything that gets the people (or in this case, insects) hurt that you’re responsible for. Thanks! 🙂

  • I am planning to treat with MAQs for varroa. Can I treat with the eke on top or should I remove it and just use the cover? Also, the directions say to have the bottom entrance all the way open. I use 1/8″ hardware cloth for the entrance with an opening of about 4″. Should that be removed also so it is completely open?

    I am located in the Upper Peninsula of MI, and we have had a hot, humid summer. We will have 7 days of lower humidity and temperature so I will be treating them now.

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