Varroa mites are a pest that attaches to honey bees that can cause massive losses of colonies. Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mites aims to help beekeepers control the mites in their beehives. It contains 12.5% Amitraz as its active ingredient. With proper use, Taktic is highly efficient and poses low risk to beekeepers with proper use. Additionally, Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mites is safe for honey consumers and users of other bee products. Taktic is classified as a biological pesticide and insecticide for agro-chemical use. Its chemical formula is C19H23N3.
Taktic bee treatment has been useful for beekeepers for many years. Its first use is documented to be in the early 2000s. The miticide has been used successfully in various parts of the globe including Israel, USA and Yugoslavia. In Israel, a national campaign saw all beekeepers treat their beehives with Taktic for 5 consecutive treatments every 3-4 days. It saved the bees in the country from destruction by Varroa mites.
How Varroa Mites Affect Honey Bees
Honey bee colony mites lay eggs in brood cells where queen bees have also laid an egg. After the larvae of honey bees have hatched from the egg, Varroa mites feed on the larvae and food stored in the cell for bee larvae. This leads to adult honey bees emerging while weak or with deformities. Beekeepers whose honey bee colonies are infested with Varroa mites should take quick action to save their colonies. Uncontrolled mite infestations lead to colony collapse and absconding from the hive. Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mites saves beekeepers from these losses and ensures the continued health of honey bee colonies.
How Taktic Bee Treatment Works
The various companies that sell Taktic do so under their varying brand names. They sell it in either a canned liquid form or in form of strips. Others may sell Taktic in powder form. Cans of Taktic bee treatment may contain powder or liquid. The Amitraz found in Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mites is fat soluble. It is unstable and very volatile in honey. This makes it easily and completely degraded within a span of a few weeks. It even degrades faster in beeswax.
Amitraz found in Taktic bee treatment acts on the octopamine receptors in Varroa mites and causes them severe stress that eventually leads to their death. It affects the nervous system of the mites and makes then unable to cling onto bees. If it does not cause death, Amitraz leads to major changes in mite behavior that renders the mites harmless to bees. Humans lack octopamine receptors and thus are relatively safe even when they come into contact with Amitraz. However, Amitraz may affect other nervous system areas in humans, thus some limited toxicity.
Integrated pest management regimes utilizing Taktic bee treatment can also have other acaricides and Varroa mite control methods. These include formic acid that can be combined with Amitraz successfully and with no loss of effectiveness. Addition of other miticides in your honey bee colony pest management helps reduce development of resistance to Taktic bee treatment. If you note resistance to Taktic, you should promptly switch to another treatment to which the mites are not resistant.
How to Use Taktic Bee Treatment for Varroa Mites
Taktic in powder form is sold in a plastic or metal can. Beekeepers using Taktic in its powder form are required to dust infested beehives with the powder. Entrances and brood frames should receive generous applications of the Taktic powder. Care should be taken not to apply too much powder on bees. It is inevitable that some powder will land on bees, but try to keep it to a minimum. With excessive exposure to Taktic, bees are affected. This may cause the honey bee colony that you seek to protect becoming weak and susceptible to attacks by robber bees.
As a strip
In strip form, Taktic is more effective and easier to apply in beehives. Beekeepers place the strips of Taktic in the beehive between brood frames. Bees brush against the strips and spread Taktic throughout the honey bee colony. Mites on bees get exposed to the miticide and fall off the bees. Beekeepers may come up with their own strips that are more effective than those sold by most companies. Cardboard and strong absorbent papers are favorite materials for beekeepers making their own strips to apply Taktic bee treatment.
As a liquid
Some beekeepers may buy Taktic in liquid form. This requires dilution and subsequent spraying in your beehives. Taktic in liquid form requires additional equipment, usually a hand sprayer or knapsack sprayer. Liquid Taktic may also be applied using an aerosolizing smoker. There are various smokers in the market, sold by various companies. Smokers for aerosolizing tactic have a 98% efficiency rate and are easy to handle. They can be used in all types of hives and allow the beekeeper to control dosing. They keep the beekeeper well protected from the smoke and exposure to Amitraz in Taktic.
It is very advisable to remove honey supers from your beehives before applying Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mites. This reduces the chances of residues building up in bees wax and honey that you will harvest later in the year. It is a great move by beekeepers to protect their customers who consume honey and bee products from their apiaries.
Pros and Cons of Using Taktic Bee Treatment
- Taktic is effective against mites where Varroa mites have not developed resistance. With proper use, the miticide clear mites from your apiary fast. It continues killing mites for a long period of time, keeping your beehives clean of Varroa mites. This article has a section detailing how beekeepers can check for mite resistance to Taktic.
- The active ingredient in Taktic, Amitraz, is volatile. Once it has been in the hive for some time, it clears from the hive. This eventually leaves no residues in honey or beeswax. Taktic is thus very safe for use in apiculture.
- Unused Taktic is easy to handle and store. It has a long shelf life when stored in a cool place in its original packaging. Amitraz is stable for up to 2 years if stored under the recommended conditions. It should be kept away from children and animals that may swallow it.
- Beekeepers that practice other types of livestock agriculture find Taktic useful as a broad spectrum acaricide effective in the control of ticks, lice and fleas.
- Some mite populations have developed resistance to Amitraz which is the active ingredient in Taktic. This has led to Taktic being banned as a Varroa mite treatment in some countries including the USA. However, some beekeepers continue using Taktic despite the ban.
- Beekeepers have reported unusually high death rates in adult bees after application of Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mites. With other miticides available to beekeepers, it does not make much sense to kill your bees and leave the colony weak.
- Taktic has potential to harm beekeepers and their loved ones. Its presence and use by beekeepers poses a health risk that is avoidable by use of other mite control options in honey bee colonies.
- You have to remove honey supers from the beehive when you are going to use Taktic. This leads to lower honey yields if treatment so done during honey flow season. You can escape this potential loss in your apiary production levels if you are treating your beehives for Varroa mites during a season when bees are not actively storing up honey stocks.
Best Usage for Taktic Bee Treatment
Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mites is best used in form of strips hung in the beehive. It has the best effectiveness rate for mite control. It is also easy to remove strips from the beehive once mites are no longer present in honey bee colonies. Beekeepers who do not wish to use the commercial Taktic strips can make their own strips using various materials. Strips of Taktic release Amitraz into the beehive slowly and at a fairly constant concentration. They last long and allow for only 2-3 treatments in a 6 week period.
Spring is the best time to apply Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mites. During spring, the queen lays eggs and the brood gets more in the bee colony. It is safe to feed bees during spring if you are applying Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mites. The miticide does not affect the feeding and reproduction behavior of honey bee colonies. Applying Taktic in spring when the brood is growing makes sure that you get healthy adult bees that are free from any deformities. You are also allowed to use Taktic when you find it necessary. If you note that your honey bee colonies are infested with mites, you should institute treatment as soon as possible to minimize the losses you incur. You do not have to wait for spring to treat beehives against Varroa mites and risk losing your entire honey bee colony.
Resistance to Taktic
Establishing whether mites are resistant to tactic bee treatment is important for beekeepers. This is done by inspecting your beehive after you have applied Taktic. Beehive inspection to find out whether mites are resistant to tactic is done 2-3 days after application of the miticide. Beekeepers carrying out such an inspection to determine if Taktic is effective should look out for dead mites at the bottom of the hive. They will also note fewer mites on the backs of bees. Beehives with screened bottom boards save you the trouble of a beehive inspection. You only need to look under the hive for dead mites. This is however not possible when you are using Taktic bee treatment in cold weather which requires you to use solid bottom boards in your beehives.
A Word of Caution
Taktic has potential to harm humans. With improper use, it can cause poisoning. Additionally, excessive exposure to Amitraz may cause cancer in humans. Handling of Taktic requires beekeepers to wear gloves and protect their face, eyes and lungs. An assortment of protective respirators and masks are available to beekeepers that are using various pesticides such as Taktic. Any opened or unopened containers of Taktic must be stored safely and away from the reach of children. They are best kept a distance from other farm chemicals you may have. Foodstuffs should not be allowed to come into contact with Taktic and beekeepers should not eat, drink or smoke while applying Taktic.
In the event of poisoning due to exposure to Taktic, a number of symptoms will be noted. These include nausea, dizziness, labored breathing and vomiting. Treatment for such a case is often supportive and is best done at a medical facility. Mechanical ventilation support, gastric lavage and other medical interventions are often adequate to restore poisoned persons to full health if started in a timely manner. It is not clear if vomiting should be induced in a person who has accidentally swallowed any amount of Taktic Amitraz has a low mortality and morbidity rate in humans when given supportive treatment. There is no specific antidote for the chemical. To prevent all this, sellers of Taktic include clear and very prominent warning labels on its containers.
Comparing Taktic with Other Varroa Mite Treatment
In comparison to other methods and products used to control Varroa mite infestations, Taktic emerges a strong contender for the top spot. It has a high efficiency rate and dissipates quickly. Many other miticides are either less effective or leave residues in honey and bee products. This is the major factor that has seen beekeepers continue using Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mites despite its ban in the USA. There is however some hope for beekeepers that prefer Taktic with renewed pushes for its re-approval as a Varroa mite control product in the USA.
It is important to note that beekeepers often switch to using Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mites when other honey bee colony mite control methods fail or produce unsatisfactory results. Such methods and products include re-queening colonies, use of formic acid and application of fluvalvinate. Mite control using special drone comb foundation and using screened bottom boards can be used as supportive practices to the use of Taktic. Powdered sugar has also been found to very effectively support honey bee colony mite control when used alongside Taktic bee treatment.
Both experienced and beginner beekeepers can safely use Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mites. It does not require too much previous experience to successfully apply it in Varroa mite control. Most sellers of Taktic bee treatment provide instructions manuals. Some print directions for use on the container in which they sell Taktic. Those that may not have the instruction or directions for use accompanying the product have provided excellent manuals on their respective websites. The manuals found on the websites are downloadable and can be printed out for reference. Beekeeping can also benefit from advances in technology. Instructions manuals for use of tactic bee treatment for Varroa mites can be read on your smartphone if need be.
The long shelf life of Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mite control makes it a practical solution for mite control for beekeepers with a single beehive or large apiaries with hundreds of beehives. Differently sized packaging for Taktic containing small to large amounts of the acaricide are available to beekeepers. For large apiaries, you should go for the package sizes that are big and contain large amounts of the product. Beekeepers with smaller apiaries or few beehives should buy smaller sized packets or cans of Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mites. There is no need to stock up on too much of the product and have it expire in your store. You risk losses if the 2-year period of effectiveness lapses while you still have some unused Taktic sitting in your store.
A Final Word
Beekeepers looking to control mite populations in their honey bee colonies can safely incorporate Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mites in their pest management plans. It is best to rotate Taktic with other miticides such as Apiguard or Apistan. This makes sure that mites are not excessively exposed to Amitraz and do not develop resistance to it. This bee colony mite control product is effective and works quickly. It is especially suitable for use in large and busy apiaries because Taktic bee treatment for Varroa mites does not leave dangerous residues in honey and other honey bee products.
Have you ever used Taktic bee treatment in your beehives? Leave a comment below and let us know what your experience was like.