4.5.1.2. Obtaining residue free hives

The presence of long lasting acaricide residues (Bogdanov et al., 1998) in wax combs or honey can influence the results of experiments in which the survival of mites is a parameter of importance. Several methods to replace contaminated wax by residue free wax exist for beekeepers to switch to biological apiculture (Imdorf et al., 2004). The method described here allows the decrease of residues below detectable levels within 1 year. This does not mean that all residues have disappeared, but that they have been diluted enough not to represent a problem for the quality of hive products. Whether the minimal quantities still present in the wax affect mite survival is however uncertain. This method based on comb removal can nevertheless be used to decrease the amount of residues in the wax for research purpose.

Complete removal of combs is best done at beginning of the bee season when comb is rapidly built by workers.

1. Split the colony.

2. Out of a split, create a broodless swarm with the old queen.

3. Scrape all propolis and wax, wash with soda and surface burn with a flame used hive parts to remove residues before introducing the colony; alternatively, use new hive parts.

4. Place swarm on residue free foundation (originating from location where no persistent miticides are used and originating from wax correctly sterilised by melting >121 °C for >30 min).

5. Feed this first split.

6. In the other split, let the brood run out and a new queen be produced.

7. When the majority of the brood has emerged and the queen has started laying, remove all old combs.

8. Replace with residue free wax foundation.

9. Feed the second split.

It is also possible to let bees build new combs from their own wax production rather than giving wax foundations.

 

Alternatively, the following can be done at the end of the bee season on whole colonies.

1. Trap the queen is a large cage made out of queen excluder allowing for the passage of workers.

2. Let the brood run out.

3. Scrape all propolis and wax, wash with soda and surface burn with a flame used hive parts to remove residues before introducing the colony; alternatively, use new hive parts.

4. Remove old combs.

5. Replace with residue free wax foundations.

6. Feed the colony.

 

Pros: decreases acaricide residues below detectable levels.

Cons: whether putative, but minimal residues remaining have a biological effect is unknown.