(left to right) CTAHR Honeybee Project members Scott Nikaido, Mark Wright, Ethel Villalobos, and Tyler Ito (fifth from left) pose with collaborating beekeepers. Pictured fourth from the left is David VanderDussen, CEO of NOD Apiary Ltd. products and creator of MAQS. (Photo provided by Ethel Villalobos)
In April 2007 the beekeeping community of Hawai‘i was appalled to discover that the varroa mite (Varroa destructor), a devastating honeybee parasite, was widespread on O‘ahu. A year later the mite invaded the Big Island. In February 2011, however, research conducted by CTAHR’s Honeybee Project helped bring good news to the local beekeepers and farmers: A new formic acid-based miticide, Mite Away Quick StripTM (MAQS), has now been approved by the HDOA. CTAHR’s bee team, led by Dr. Ethel Villalobos and Dr. Mark Wright, worked in collaboration with local beekeepers, the manufacturer, and the HDOA to evaluate the efficacy of this new bio-pesticide and to assess the impact of the treatment on honeybee colonies.
Varroa destructor is an external parasitic mite that feeds on the hemolymph (akin to blood) of pupae and adult bees and transmits pathogens, including deadly bee viruses. The field research conducted by the Honeybee Project team, which also includes Scott Nikaido, Tyler Ito, and Jane Tavares, provided the data needed for a local needs registration of MAQS, which provides effective mite control, does not leave chemical residues in the hive or interfere with honey collection, and is designed to work well in warm climates.
Since the mite arrived in Europe and the continental US, many control methods have been developed and tested. Synthetic miticides decrease in effectiveness over time as mites develop resistance, and their residues may have detrimental side effects on bee health. The UH Honeybee team and Hawai‘i’s beekeepers are now leading the way nationally in the use of non-synthetic chemicals to control the destructive mite. The approval of MAQS will help safeguard the health of Hawai‘i’s honeybee colonies and contribute to the sustainability of food production in the Islands.
For more information about MAQS and the UH Honeybee Project, please visit our Web site at www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/wrightm/Honey_Bee_Home.html