Promising experiments are being carried out by experts from the Hungarian University of Agricultural and Life Sciences (MATE) and the ELKH Balaton Limnological Research Institute (BLKI) to develop more effective control measures against the Asian bee mite, the most significant pest for European honeybee populations. Research on the efficacy of lithium treatments covers the mechanism of action and possible methods of treatment, the optimal concentration of lithium salts and their accumulation and discharge in apiculture products. The most recent publication on the topic was published in Insects.

Today, beekeeping, and through it the pollination of many fruit and arable crops, is most threatened by the Asian bee mite (Varroa destructor). Unfortunately, the long-term efficacy of most currently licensed mite control products is unsatisfactory or uncertain. In fact, parasites may become resistant to most of these products over time, while the efficacy of other products may still be varied. In recent years, researchers at the Georgikon Campus of MATE in Keszthely, led by Dr. Balázs Kolics, have launched extensive studies on the use of lithium salts – especially lithium chloride – which have shown promising results in supporting the more effective control of bee mites. The research has been supported by the expertise of BLKI researchers since last year.

Beekeeping during rape flowering

The results of the experiments carried out so far are encouraging. Lithium chloride is very effective against bee mites when applied in well-defined concentrations, in a well-defined manner and at a well-defined time, while it is harmless to bees and does not affect the human consumption of honey. It is important to stress, however, that the conditions for the use of lithium salts in apiaries are not yet established and further testing is needed to fully explore the potential adverse effects.