Natural and chemical Control of Varroa Destructor in Iran (2007)
Reza Shahrouzi
International Counsellor for Agriculture & Apiculture
Qazvin-Iran.P.O.Box 34185-451
Fax: +98 281 22 27 144.
Mobile: +98 912 581 97 33.

The Varroa destructor Anderson and Trueman mite is considered as the causal agent of the most severe parasitosis of the honeybee. During its expansion throughout the whole world, it appeared in Iran in the 80s. It is known that this mite is characterized by its special reproductive cycle, linked to the different evolutionary phases of the bee colony.

The parasitic mite Varroa destructor is well known to beekeepers because in many countries it is the most common cause of death of Apis mellifera colonies. Methods of controlling the mite have been investigated and several products are now approved for use. A recent difficulty in Iran as well as in other countries has been the development of resistance in varroa to tau-fluvalinate (Apistan) and flumethrine (Bayvarol). This has led to a high mortality of colonies worldwide, and we have therefore investigated various new control products on sale.

The Ministry of Jahad-e-Agriculture of Iran has engaged important expenses for controlling varroa. In particular, they purchased many anti - varroa products from different companies (Ciba Geigy, Bayer, Sandoz, Farma-kachim, Alvetra, Vita Europe, Elanco, Biove' Chemcales LAIF), in order to test their action on the parasites and the effectiveness of different types of treatment: by inhalation (fumigation), absorption (systemic action) and contact (slow release methods). Varroa infestation in Iran is serious, and Table 1 lists the results of the treatments. Beekeepers must learn to live with it: they should maintain only strong colonies, requeen them every two years, and rear queens selected for their resistance to diseases. If these rules are followed, the colonies will not be endangered by the varroa mite.

Although we are in the 21century, varroa destructor will undoubtedly remain for several years one of the principal agents of the weakening of apiarian livestock.

To date, two medicaments have an AMM in Iran, ApiLifeVar and Apivar. ApiLifeVar has an effectiveness of 94 %. It is a natural product with low toxicity. Apivar has an effectiveness of 99 %. It is a chemical.

chemical control varroa iran 1

Since 1996 it has become apparent that varroa is resistant to Apistan probably for the following reasons:

  • Since 1989, Apistan has been the principal treatment used in Iran.
  • Fluvalinate is liposoluble, so residues are left in beeswax combs and accumulate progressively as the wax is reused for comb foundation.
  • The wax of continuously used comb contains only small amounts of the active compound.
  • Wooden frames impregnated with Klartan (phytosanitary formulation) are used.

Since 2005 it has become apparent that varroa is resistant to Bayvarol probably for the following reasons:

  • Since Since 1996,Bayvarol with Apistan has been the principal treatment used in Iran.
  • Bayvarol and Apistan is pyréthroïdes have tendency to resistant after several years treatment used.
  • Beekeeper used two strips instead of four strips.
  • The first cases of resistance to Bayvarol were reported in 2002. According to P.Drajnudel. Dr Forssi in the area Kashan 14 th to 17 th September 2002.

Recently use has been made of thymol, which is the active component of Api LifeVar and Apiguard . In 2000 and 2007, I tested Apiguard and ApiLifeVar, and also studied many publications from around the world. Thymol has the advantage of being a natural substance and one with a low toxicity to humans. Also, Varroa destructor has not been reported as resistant to it.

However, the use of Apiguard has the following disadvantages:

  • Colonies must be given a double dose and the treatment repeated in the autumn. Mites that survive the first treatment reproduce during the bees’ active season. So it is necessary to use another acaricide. (Faucon, Shahrouzi 2002)
  • When colonies infested with varroa were treated only with Apiguard, they showed abnormally high winter losses, with clear evidence of mites.
  • A strong odour is apparent during the three days following treatment, which disturbs the colony and stimulates the bees to clean their hive.
  • For two applications the treatment takes 14–16 weeks, which is inconvenient for the beekeeper.
  • It is necessary to provide a space between the top of the frames in a hive and the hive roof, for instance by inserting an empty super; this reduces the temperature of the bees and increases their honey consumption.
  • Temperature variations during the treatment are important. If the temperature is above 35° C, the treatment is more effective (< 80%) but causes a higher larval mortality. If the temperature is less 12° C the treatment is less effective (< 60%), and leads to a higher mortality of adult bees.
  • If proper conditions for its use are adhered to, thymol residues do not increase. Whereas Apiguard is ineffective against Acarapis woodi, both menthol and formic acid were found to be effective in tests at four sites in the Department of Gillan in north Iran during 2001 and 2002.


  • Baggio A, Piro R, Crivalleri D, Dainese N, Damolin O, Mutinelli F (2002) - Prodotti a base di timolo per il controllo della dell'efficacia e dei residui nel miele, L'Ape nostra Amica (4):30-34.
  • Rapport de mission de P.Drajnudel - Deposé à l'organization veterinaire Iranienne 14-17 Sep 2002 dans la cadre cooperation Franco-Iranienne.
  • La Santé de l'abeille N° 194 Mars-Avril 2003.
  • Dr M.E. Colin. 1999 - Options Mediterraneennes, Bee diease diagnosis No 25 P.121-142.
  • Shahrouzi .Reza, 2007 - La resistance de varroa aux pyrethrinoides.
  • Shahrouzi.Reza,2007 - L'efficacité des medicaments ayant recu recemment une AMM en Iran 2007.
  • Shahrouzi R, 2001 - Two decades of living with varroa in Iran. Apimondia Durban- South- Africa, 28 Oct to 1 Nov.
  • Shahrouzi R, 2003 - Against varroa in Iran. Having an AMM control in six Departments, Apimondia Ljubljana, Slovenia, 24 to 28 August.
  • Shahrouzi R, 2001 - Tests de terrain effectués en Iran sur les nouveaux produits anti-varroa, Bulletin Technique Apicole 28(2) 73-76