Apistan vs Apivar Comparison Review

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Beekeepers have a number of competing products for Varroa mite control in their apiaries. Apivar ismanufactured and sold by various beekeeping supplies companies promise to rid beehives of mites in a short period of time. Apistan and derivatives are also in the mite control niche. This article compares Apistan vs Apivar – how they work, their effectiveness and suitability among other things. The similarities and differences between the two miticides are also detailed in this article. It will help beekeepers make the right choices about miticides for use in their apiaries. Additionally, this article helps beekeepers avoid causing miticide resistance in Varroa mites.

Apistan and Apivar are products used to treat varroa mites in beehives. They along with their variants and derivatives may be sold under different trade names. They are made into differently sized packages that are suitable for both beginner and professional beekeepers.

Apistan vs Apivar

Apistan vs Apivar - Mann Lake DC665 Apistan Strips
The Mann Lake DC665 Apistan Strips. Click here to read our review.

About Apistan

Apistan uses a natural or synthetic pyrethroid called fluvalinate. It is a broad spectrum acaricide used in insect control. Apistan has an inherent ability to hurt bees. It is however made to contain only a small amount of fluvalinate so that the concentration achieved in the hive is below the threshold at which it could be harmful to bees. Continuous use of Apistan in your apiary may lead to mites developing a resistance to it. It requires you to skip use of Apistan over some seasons. During this time, if your beehive is infested with mites, you must use another control method that is not an Apistan.

About Apivar

Apivar is made and sold by various companies. Traditionally, an Apivar is a trade name for a Varroa mite treatment that is built on Amitraz. It is considered a hard chemical treatment. It does not leave economically significant residues in honey and bees wax. However, this does not allow Apivar to be used with honey supers or during honey flow seasons. Amitraz from Apivar clears quickly from the hive once Apivar strips are removed from the hive. It is common practice for beekeepers to remove honey supers during miticide treatments. This makes sure that honey harvested from the hive is safe for human consumption. It is better to be on the safe side than lose a whole harvest of honey due to chemical residues from miticides.

Using both Apistan and Apivar

Apistan vs Apivar - Mann Lake DC-799 Apivar
Mann Lake DC-799 Apivar. Click here to read our review.

Both Apivar and Apistan miticides are sold in the form of strips. The strips are made of plastic polymer. They release the respective active ingredients into the beehive through contact with bees. Apistan and Apivar are spread throughout the hive by bees. The recommended rate of application is 2 strips for every 10 frames in your beehive. The strips are hung between frames. It is best to place strips of the miticides in high-traffic areas of your beehives and within brood. Beekeepers using an Apivar or Apistan to control mites in honey bees should check on the placement of strips in the hive every 2-3 weeks during treatment. If the brood area moves, you may then re-situate the strips. The average treatment period using either an Apivar or Apistan should not be less than 6 weeks, and should not exceed 8 weeks.

How they Work

Apistan works to kill mites by exciting their nervous system to exhaustion. Apivar causes excitation, then paralysis of mites. In both cases, mites fall off the backs of bees and cannot climb back. Apistan and Apivar do not directly kill Varroa mites. They act to cause death of the mites indirectly through starvation once mites fall from the backs of bees. Beekeepers using screened bottom boards in their apiaries will note dead mites on the ground under their beehives. With solid bottom boards, you may find the mites on the bottom board, or find that bees have removed dead mites from the hive.

Things to Note:

  • The use of screened bottom boards and mite control has attracted some controversy itself. Dead mites often attract ants and other insects that feed on them.
  • Over time, these insects may realize that there is a beehive right above the dead mites. Ants can turn into a threat in a beehive. An oil moat around the legs of your beehives keeps them out.
  • If they find their way into the hive in large enough numbers, bees abscond. Whether you are using Apistan or Apivar to control mites, make sure that dead mites do not stay too long under your beehives.

When to Use

The best time to carry out mite control in bee colonies is after the main honey harvest. However, heavy infestations of mites apply a lot of pressure on honey bees. Heavy infestation leads to faster colony collapse due to weakened bees. Despite the queen laying eggs, a colony is unable to feed its young when mites are left to reign unchecked in the hive. This is because weakened bees cannot forage well and may not be able to return to the hive in some cases. Beekeepers seeing heavy infestation are allowed to treat their hives at any time of the year to save their honey bee colonies. The health and continuity of your honey bee colony is most important above anything else.

Speed of Effectiveness

Once applied in the honey bee hive, Apivar show a slow start in their activity. They take a little longer than Apistan variants to start killing mites. This is because Apivar reaches its required hive concentration at a slower speed than Apistan. Apistan is fast acting when applied properly. It is very suitable for honey bee mite control in late autumn. Mites reproduce in summer when conditions are very favorable for them. If beekeepers do not apply treatments in summer, their honey bee colonies will be heavily infested in autumn and have very low chances of surviving winter. To quickly clear mites from such a beehive, an Apistan is highly recommended.

Operating Temperatures

A remarkable difference between an Apivar and Apistan is their optimum operating temperature. The effectiveness of miticides varies based on the type of active ingredient in each miticide. Apivar have a wide range of operating temperature and are not affected by rises and falls in temperatures. They give a relatively stable output of Amitraz despite ambient temperature variations. Apistan miticides are best used at a temperature of more than 59F (15C). Below this temperature, the effectiveness of Apistan is negatively impacted. It is however not often that ambient temperatures get this low except in winter. Beekeepers using Apistan in the north where it is cold and winter may set in early should carry out treatment during warm seasons. Both Apivar and Apistan variants can be stored at cool temperatures for long periods of time without losing their effectiveness.


Mites are known to sometimes adapt to adverse environmental conditions. The presence of miticides causes production of chemicals that fight the miticide in the mite. This is a natural response of any organism to a chemical threat. When frequently exposed to the same miticide, resistance develops in mites. Resistance to Apistan by mites has been noted. It is recommended that rotations are done when using Apistan. Apivar do not cause development of resistance in mites. They can be used on a long-term basis for mite control. All the same, it is recommended that you alternate between two or more mite control products to eliminate any chances of mites developing resistance to any of them..

Apistan is a rather old method of dealing with Varroa mite infections. While it is still effective in some places, it is not in others. Beekeepers should not take the risk of using Apistan – and later finding out mites are resistant to it. Additionally, Apistan carries a lot of health risks both to your bee colony and to consumers of honey. It is quite a toxic chemical that should be handled with extreme care. These factors about Apistan make it less appealing to beekeepers when juxtaposed with Apivar which is a relatively newer miticide. Apivar poses fewer risks to beekeepers, bee colonies and honey consumers when applied properly. It is effective against mites and leaves no chemical footprint in your apiary except dead mites.


While it is up to each miticide supplier to decide on packaging of their product, the manufacturers and sellers of Apistan and Apivar have their packaging right. Most suppliers include instruction manuals and directions for use in the packages of miticide they sell. Some companies go a step further and provide the instruction manuals in various formats on their company websites. Other resources that may be included in the package you get on your purchase of an Apivar or Apistan are staples or pins. They come in handy to attach the miticide in your beehive.

Some of the packaging for Apistan and Apivar are resealable for safe storage of any strips that you may not use. It is however better to buy just enough miticide that you require to minimize the need of storing already opened miticide packages. For emergencies, you can have an extra unopened packet of your preferred miticide purchased and stored properly.

Similarities Between Apistan and Apivar

  • Both Apivar and Apistan are used in mite control in honey bee colonies. They are applied for a period of not less than 6 weeks, and not exceeding 8 weeks. Over-exposure of bees and mites to any of these two miticides is not recommended.
  • Apivar and Apistan are effective against both light and heavy mite infestations. With proper use and early detection of mite infestation, they remove mites from your apiary and give your honey bee colonies a chance at continuity.
  • Apivar and Apistan sold under various trade names leave residues in honey or beeswax. The residue of Apivar is however less harmful in honey and dissipates faster than Apistan.
  • The central nervous system of Varroa mites is affected by both Apistan and Apivar. Affected mites lose their ability to cling onto bees. Mites fall to the bottom of your beehive and die due to lack of nutrition.
  • Tracheal mites are not affected by Apivar or Apistan.

Differences Between Apistan and Apivar

  • Apistan has seen a lot of use over the years, which has led to mites developing resistance. Beekeepers should at least make inquiries about the effectiveness of Apistan in their local area before using it as Varroa mite control miticide. There are very few cases of mites developing resistance or tolerance to Apivar.
  • Apivar is quickly metabolized in mites and is very unstable. Even with proper handling and storage, Apivar loses its strength over short periods of time. Apistan is on the other hand stable and has proven to be very effective where mites are not resistant to it.
  • Exposure to Apivar does not lead to any adverse effects on honey bees. Apistan may cause loss of weight in your queen bee with prolonged exposure. Additionally, Apistan treatment can lead to a higher mortality rate in drones; they die earlier than usual and in larger numbers.


A Final Word

Honey bees will in some conditions require feeding. When a bee colony is short on supplies or there is little nectar flow, beekeepers give various feeds to their honey bees. Treating a honey bee colony for mite infestations and feeding the colony simultaneously may be required. It is permissible to treat for mites in a colony if you are using an Apivar product. Apistan however is not very suitable for use if you are feeding your bees. This is because Apistan has been observed to somehow find its way into honey and remain there as residue. It may cause your honey to have a change in odor. If it is necessary to feed bees and treat them for mites, the best solution is using an Apivar in place of an Apistan.

Both Apistan and Apivar can be purchased online or at your local beekeeping supplies stockiest. Some agro-vet products retailers may also have these miticides. If beekeepers cannot access any of the miticides on online stores or at retailers, they should contact the manufacturers and authorized dealers. They are then sure to get good quality miticides of their choice that will work well. Make sure to check the expiry dates of any miticide product that you buy, whether it is an Apistan or Apivar. Using expired products is not effective against mites and may cause unnecessary harm to your honey bee colony. If storing some leftover miticide products, be sure to store it safely to retain its efficacy.

What do you think of Apivar and Apistan? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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