By Dr Ohafer Behnam, Iraq
In Spring 1995 colonies showed some delay in their build up. A lot of crawling bees had been seen in front of the hives and on the ground. Hives in two apiaries were treated with tobacco leaves. 15-20 g of leaves were burned in the smoker with the material used for making smoke. It was used during routine examinations every week or as needed, in March, April and May. These colonies were shown to have greater populations and to yield more honey compared with two control hives kept near the apiary of 50 colonies. In the apiary with 30 colonies there were another 45 colonies which were not treated with tobacco smoke.
In early August there was a check up and comparison between the colonies that had been treated with tobacco smoke and those which had not. There was a great difference in honeybee populations; those which had been treated being more populous. The bees were more active in foraging and collecting nectar.
Whatever the disease, I believe that tobacco smoke had beneficial effect on the colonies. We know that nicotine in tobacco smoke has some anaesthetic effect on insects in general, and it might have some lethal effect on mites and therefore some beneficial effect against the condition.
We believe now that the immune system of the bees is in some way diminished. By using tobacco smoke we are either hitting the primary target, or we might be curing a secondary pathogen. In either case we are helping our bees to get better!
1. SHIMANUKI, H; CALDERONE, N W; KNOX, D A (1994) Parasitic mite syndrome: the symptoms. American Bee Journal 134: 827-828
2. HUNG, A C F; ADAMS J SHIMANUKI, H (1995) Bee Parasitic Mite Syndrome (11) The Varroa mite and role of viruses. American Bee Journal 135: 702-704
[Bees for Development Journal #39]