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Food Grade Mineral Oil (FMGO) Use in Varroa Treatment

February 03, 2010


The protagonist for the use of food grade mineral oil (FMGO) is Dr. Pedro Rodriguez.
Dr. Pedro Rodriguez (DPR) started evaluating and using nothing but FMGO in 1996. DPR started research with FMGO because of its known qualities as a non-chemical agent used by many medicinal companies and in its use as a non contaminating lubricant.
To make FMGO a credible treatment for Varroa mite research was undertaken to determine the efficacy of FMGO and the mechanism by which it eliminated the Varroa mite.

DPR trialled various methods of using FMGO and this research led to the development of a formula for soaking cotton chords to place on top of the brood frames, exposing the bees to FMGO. The research led to an economic homemade ‘emulsion recipe’ for a hive product that would attract the bees. This recipe provided the additional bonus of attracting and covering the bees in the emulsion when they removed the chord and stimulating the hygienic grooming behaviour. The mite that comes into contact with the emulsion has been observed to become irritated disturbed and more agile, often prompting the grooming bees to pick off the mites. This behaviour has also been observed when applying HiveClean™.

DPR also used FMGO in a thermal fogger of the type used for greenhouse fumigation. Trials and contributory feedback from users from all over the world have demonstrated that mites can be treated with the thermal fogging of FMGO as a solitary treatment in itself. Use of fogging and chords has been found to be the most effective form of Varroa mite control. Further research showed that by introducing thymol as a synergist greatly increased the effectiveness of the FMGO contributing to increased mite drop ratios.
DPR took honey and wax from colonies that had been under treatment for three years and submitted them for gas chromatography analysis. The test demonstrated that if the recommended application protocols were observed that there would be no trace of either FMGO or thymol in the wax or honey.

The three combination/uses of FMGO are: -

  1. FMGO fog only – once per week
  2. FMGO fog and emulsion chords every 2-3 weeks.
  3. FGMO dripped onto topbar and emulsion chords every thirty days.

The acaricide mechanism of FMGO (Why it works) is based on the following: -

  1. The body of the Varroa mite is flat offering a large surface/volume making it vulnerable to treatment with oils.
  2. Varroa mites as well as Honey bees breathe through spiracles. FMGO blocks the smaller spiracles of the mite causing their death by asphyxia. Also the body of the mite is covered in pores used to take in moisture for hydration. These pores are blocked by the FMGO interfering with another biological process. Honey bee spiracles are much larger and are not affected by the ‘fog’.
  3. During the application of FMGO a fine film of oil is deposited on the bees which interferes with their ability to grip the bees thus falling off or being picked off by grooming bees.