Georgia Department of Agriculture

Georgia beekeepers offered new weapon to combat varroa mites, their worst adversary

Friday, July 22, 2011

The unregistered pesticide HopGuard has been approved for use by Georgia honey beekeepers, but only under strict authorization that expires at the end of the year, says Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention has granted Georgia beekeepers limited authority to use the unregistered pesticide HopGuard to control varroa mites. The parasites are the most ravenous and destructive intruders found in beehives worldwide.

HopGuard, potassium salt of hop beta acids, is marketed by Beta Tec Hop Products, a subsidiary of John I. Hass, Inc., Yakima, Wash. The company offers instructions for the use of the product in this HopGuard - varroa mite control YouTube video.

The limited authority by the federal agency allows Georgia beekeepers to use the HopGuard treatment no more than two times before the special state wavier expires on Dec. 31, 2011.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) is charged with ensuring that all provisions of the exemption are met.  Its authorization allows for the maximum total of 252,000 HopGuard strips to be used statewide under this specific exemption that permits the use of an unregistered pesticide. 

Only one strip of the treated cardboard with the HopGuard chemical can be used for every five frames in a brood chamber.  The typical hive consists of a 10-frame brood chamber.  The EPA allows for four-week treatments that are limited now to summer and fall of this year only. A spring treatment was previously authorized in EPA’s May 27 wavier.  

EPA permits beekeepers to only treat the brood chamber (where the queen lays eggs and are nurtured by worker bees) and specifically disallows the treatment of honey supers located above the brood chamber (where beekeepers harvest honey for consumers).

HopGuard residue is not expected to be present in edible honey when the pesticide is used according to its strict instructions.  This is the first year an exemption has been requested for the use of this product in Georgia.  A full registration of the HopGuard product in Georgia is being made at this time, according to the EPA.

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