New Medicine To Protect Honey Bees Against Varroa Mites

Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) suggested the marketing approval for VarroMed (oxalic acid dihydrate / formic acid) in the European Union (EU). This anti parasitic medicine will be used forVarroa mite infestation in honey-bee colonies, which is the most considerable parasitic health concern affecting honey bee worldwide.

As Honey bees are vital for pollination of crops and wild plants in Europe. The European Commission estimates that pollinators, including honey bees, bumble bees and wild bees, put in at least 22 billion euro each year to European agriculture and pollinate over 80% of crops and wild plants on the continent.

Though, beekeepers around the world have reported losses of honey-bee colonies, which are measured to be caused by a permutation of different factors:

  • Habitat loss
  • Climate change
  • Pesticide use
  • Diseases affecting bee health

The decline of these pollinators could lead to serious biological, agricultural, environmental and economic problems.

The main parasite affecting honey bees is the Varroa mite, an insidious species from Asia that has affected bee colonies worldwide. The Varroa mite feeds on the circulatory fluid of bees and brood (bee larvae) and can also throw in to the increase of viruses and bacteria.

VarroMed is intended to kill Varroa mites and is a liquid which is dripped into bees in the hive. It contains as active substance a fixed mixture of two organic acids, oxalic acid dihydrate and formic acid. Both substances have been known in veterinary medicine for a long time and are either naturally present in foods or accepted for use in foods. The medicine is not expected to pose a risk to human or animal health or the environment, if used according to the product information.

VarroMed is intended to be used as part of an integrated Varroa control program, which includes not only treatment with medicines but also non-chemical techniques like queen trapping or drone brood removal. It can be used either as a single-dose treatment during the brood less period (winter treatment) or in the presence of brood (spring or autumn), which will usually require frequent treatments.

Treatment should only be given at times when honey is not produced by bees.

The effectiveness and safety of the product in the protection of honey bees against Varroa mites was tested in laboratory and field studies in different European climate conditions.

The medicine has been classified as MUMS (minor use minor species/limited market), and, consequently, abridged data rations apply, and these have been considered in the evaluation. EMA’s MUMS policy aims to arouse the development of new veterinary medicines for minor species and for diseases in major species for which the market is limited and that would otherwise not be developed under current market conditions.