Apivar® (Amitraz) Approved for Varroa Control in South Dakota

Several Other States Expect Approval Soon

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Section 18 approval for Apivar® (amitraz) use in beehives to control varroa mites in South Dakota, the original requesting state. A number of other states have also requested similar approvals that are pending. South Dakota’s original request for a special Section 18 permit was made in 2010. A Section 18 approval lasts for one year and then must be renewed.  This is different that a Section 3 general use permit, which would include all states and would not have the one year time limit on the acaricide’s use. The amitraz product, Apivar, comes in strip form and has been used in Europe for a number of years. Canadian authorities approved emergency use of the acaricide three years ago and a general use registration was expected this year. New Zealand beekeepers have also been using Apivar for varroa control.

Apivar® (active ingredient: 3.33% amitraz) is a sustained-release plastic strip designed for use in honey bee hives.

According to the 2010 South Dakota request:

“EPA has received a specific exemption request from the South Dakota Department of Agriculture to use the pesticide amitraz (CAS No. 330089–61–1) to treat up to 250,000 colonies of beehives to control varroa mites. Under section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) (7 U.S.C. 136p), at the discretion of the Administrator, a Federal or State agency may be exempted from any provision of FIFRA if the Administrator determines that emergency conditions exist which require the exemption. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture has requested the Administrator to issue a specific exemption for the use of amitraz in beehives to control varroa mites. Information in accordance with 40 CFR part 166 was submitted as part
of this request.

“As part of this request, the applicant asserts that the beekeeping industry in South Dakota is threatened by varroa mite, a devastating pest found in bees. According to the applicant, varroa mites are developing resistance to pesticides currently available to control this pest. South Dakota is a top ranking honey-producing state and the beekeeping industry is important to South Dakota’s economy. Varroa mite outbreaks are also associated with colony virus problems.

“The Applicant proposes to make no more than two treatments (plastic strips impregnated with amitraz) per year in beehives in all counties throughout South Dakota. Approximately 250,000 honeybee colonies could be treated in South Dakota, requiring 500,000 strips for a single varroa mite treatment. The total amount of pesticide that could be used is 250,000 grams active ingredient.

“The proposed treatment schedule allows for the plastic strips to be hung in the beehives during the spring or fall if varroa mite infestations have reached treatment threshold.”

Instructions from the manufacturer for Apivar Use in Bee Hives:

1. Correctly identify the pest and ensure economic and agronomic thresholds are being met before treatment.

2. Remove honey supers before application of Apivar®.

3. Use 2 Apivar® strips per colony.

4. Separate the double strip and hang each strip between two comb frames inside the brood area or bee cluster, with a minimum distance of 2 frames between strips.

5. Suspend Apivar® strips in the brood chamber in such a way that the bees can walk on both sides of the strips.

6. Leave the strips inside the hive for 42 days and then remove.

7. In case of movement inside the bee hive far from the strips, a repositioning of the strips should be done into the bee cluster, and the strips left in place for 14 more days before removal.

8. Strips must be removed after a maximum of 56 days.

9. Do not re-use the strips.

10. Timing: Hang Apivar® strips in the hives in spring before the first honey flow if varroa mite infestations have reached treatment threshold.

11. Remove honey supers before use of Apivar strips.


13. If the varroa mite infestation is severe, treat colonies in the autumn after all surplus honey has been removed from the hive.

14. Wait 14 days after removing strips before placing honey supers on hive.

15. Monitor treated pest populations for resistance development.