Having used Apiguard for the past two years, this year I decided to use the new 'Varroa Killer' on the block - MAQs mite away strips. My reason was three fold - I can do it later in the season, it is only in the hive for one week and the supers can be left on while treating.
However, I was feeling a bit nervous about my decision as I'd heard reports of extreme bee deaths, queen fatalities and even entire colonies absconding. The reason for this behaviour is that MAQs is harsh stuff - it kills the varroa mites on the bees but is pretty heavy duty (not to mention whiffy) containing predominately formic acid.
Below is my 'how it happened' MAQs treatment. I haven't been into the hive (can only do that after seven days) but judging by the activity at the entrances, all seems well.
23 September @ 4:30pm
This is what the hive floor/inspection tray looked like. The black 'dots' are varroa mites that have dropped off the bees. There are quite a few of them, which indicates that I really did need to treat them.
Into each colony, I applied one dose (2 strips) of MAQs. I did this quickly as the smell was something else. No wonder they say to keep the supers on whilst treating giving the bees some extra space to move into. I'd move as far away from those strips too.
Next morning @ 9am
Dead bees outside the entrance of the wooden hive. I would say about 50. Then quite a few bees lying dead on the ground around the Beehaus. Perhaps a similar amount. Bees still active and flying in and out of the hives.
24 hours later
Just a few hours later and a full 24 hours after application, the 'Tree bees' have cleared all their dead way from the entrance. Bees flying in and out. Strong smell of ivy honey laced with formic acid - a bit unpleasant.
On the right side of the Beehaus - still a few dead bees on the ground outside the hive. Normal flying behaviour.
On the left side of the Beehaus - no dead bees outside but saw two bees carry a dead drone out the hive and fly off with it. A little less flying then usual it seemed.
Day 2 (48 hours later)
All seems to be back to normal. Normal flying activity. Pollen coming into the hives. Still a strong smell of acid but no more dead bees.
All seems back to normal. Still a bit of a whiff but not too bad.
Day 5 (Sunday)
All normal and no smell detected but lots of wasps about. Here one is 'eating' a dead bee, which it may have killed. Bloody wasps!
So, judging from the outside of the hives, I am pretty chuffed with MAQs. I'll go into the hives later this week and report back.
Good news is that I think I'll have some ivy honey to harvest as the bees seem to have had a late season spurt. Yay me! (but of course will leave the honey if they don't have enough winter stores in the brood box).