How Apiguard works
Apiguard is a varroa treatment used by beekeepers to help keep their colonies healthy by reducing the varroa mite count inside the bee hive. Apiguard is a widely used and very popular treatment for Varroa Mites and Tracheal Mites because it is considered organic without any known resistance from Varroa Mites.
Apiguard uses a naturally occurring substance derived from the Thyme plant called Thymol. The gel in the Apiguard trays or tubs has the thymol-based miticide suspended and is slowly released over the course of 14 days.
It is important to harvest honey and remove your honey supers from the colony before the treatment period. There should not be any honey for human consumption on the hive when the Apiguard is added. Apiguard is not designed to be used during the honey season when honey boxes are present.
Most beekeepers use Apiguard because it is an organic, soft chemical and is much easier on the bees than the hard chemicals like Checkmite or chemicals other beekeepers have used in the past. Spring, Summer and Fall are the ideal times to use apiguard gel as it requires the adult bees to touch and move the product around the colony. The gel will stick to the worker bees body hairs who move the gel around before the worker eventually throws it out. Most beekeepers use Apiguard immediately after honey harvest in the summer when only the brood box or boxes are left.
Apiguard should only be used when your varroa mite levels are above the treatment threshold where beekeeper interference is needed to help the colony. You can check for mite levels using a product called a Varroa Check which is very helpful for checking mite levels when considering a mite treatment.
The shelf life of Apiguard is 2 years from its manufacture date. At Foxhound Bee Company, we do not receive the product immediately after it is manufactured but typically have a shelf life on our products of 14+months.
How Do I Use Apiguard?
Apiguard is temperature sensitive, and the hotter the outside temperature, the quicker the gel will release the active ingredient Thymol. It is important to use the correct dosage, so the right amount of gel is applied. Releasing the Thymol too quickly can harm the bees, so this is why the manufacturer Vita Europe recommends changing the dose if outdoor high temperatures are consistently above 77°F. Vita Europe recommends using a half dose (25 grams) instead of the full dose or tray, which is 50 grams.
When outdoor high temperatures are consistently above 77°F, a half dose of 25 grams is placed on a small piece of cardboard or paper. The cardboard is then placed inside the hive, on top of the top bars closest to the brood. The cardboard or apiguard tray with the gel is then walked on by the bees and spread around the brood frames. The 25 grams dose is given to the colony for 7 days, and then the second dose of 25 grams is given to the honeybee colony. A 3rd, 25-gram dose can be given to the bees one week later if necessary. The entire half-dose treatment takes 2-3 weeks.
When outdoor high temperatures are consistently below 77°F, a full dose of 50 grams is placed inside the center of the hive on top of the frames. Two weeks later, a second dose of 50 grams is added to the colony in the same place for 2-4 weeks. A third dose is not needed. When using the full dose, the treatment period is 4-6 weeks.
Apiguard Containers Available
The patented slow-release gel is extremely helpful for helping honey bees with mites as it helps to reduce mite populations over the course of two weeks which is easier on the honey bee colony. Apiguard is a natural treatment because it contains organically derived ingredients for treating honey bees.
Apiguard is most often applied in two different forms.
A foil tray that holds 50 grams of Apiguard Gel and is covered by a foil lid.
A 3000 gram (3kg) bucket that includes a syringe and cardboard trays.
Depending on the weather, it will take 1-2 trays (50-100 grams) to treat one colony. These trays are sold individually or in a blue or green colored box of 10. One box will treat 5-10 honeybee colonies.
The 3kg tub is often used by beekeepers with at least 30 colonies. The 3kg bucket, depending on the weather, will treat 30-60 honeybee colonies. A syringe and cardboard trays are included with the tub to ensure the correct dosage.
When should I use Apiguard gel?
Apiguard can be used anytime the bees are active and moving around inside the hive. The outside temperature should be above 60°F. Apiguard can be applied any time of the day, but the most effective time to add Apiguard is in the evening when the weather has cooled down, and most of the bees are in the hive. Ideally, Apiguard is used before or after the honey flow or nectar flow.
How long do you leave Apiguard in the hive?
The treatment period for Apiguard ranges from 2 weeks to 6 weeks. When using Apiguard when average outside temperatures are above 77°F, it is wise to use a lower dose and a shorter treatment of 2-3 weeks. When average temperatures are below 77°F, a full dose can be used for a 4-6 week treatment period.
Does Apiguard affect honey?
From the Manufacturer: It is preferable to remove supers before treating with Apiguard. Apiguard may taint honey in supers, but it is unlikely, especially if the honey stores are sealed. Apiguard may taint the brood wax, and low traces may reach the wax of the supers. If you do use Apiguard when supers are in place, make sure that the Apiguard is positioned immediately above the brood nest and that the bees have enough room to get into the tray and to walk through the gel. Honey collected during Apiguard treatment can be fed back to the bees.
How effective is Apiguard?
When used properly according to package directions, Apiguard is 93% effective at killing mites inside the colony. It is wise to alternate treatments from Apiguard to Apivar, Formic Pro, HopGuard or Oxalic Acid. These other products are effective at killing mites and help beekeepers reduce the chance of varroa mites building up resistance.