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Oxalic acid is a type of naturally occurring organic compound. This is a white crystalline solid that turns colorless in water. You can find this in foods including wheat bran, pecans, sweet potatoes, and peanuts.
Some oxalic acid also naturally occurs in honey. Since this is not fat-soluble, it doesn’t accumulate or form in the honeycomb. However, don’t let its natural nature fool you. Oxalic acid is very powerful, and it is even several thousand times stronger compared to the mighty vinegar.
Oxalic acid has a bitter taste and can irritate the mouth and nose. Beekeepers need to observe the use of proper protective gear every time they use this acid or other types of acid for that matter.
History of Using Oxalic Acid
Beekeepers in Europe have been using oxalic acid for the longest time. They found it to be an effective tool in fighting off varroa mites with its efficacy of 90% to 99% when it comes to killing these pesky pests.
However, it was only in 2015 that the use of oxalic acid was approved in the United States. Before using this compound, don’t forget to check with your local state officials to confirm the approval of the registration for the oxalic acid you’re planning to use.
The good news is that oxalic acid is quite affordable. Many bee supply companies offer these products specifically labelled to be used in beehives. It is also the most legal way to continue with the application of the product.
However, some beekeepers choose to go off-label and stick with generics for their oxalic gas acid vaporizer. This decision is completely up to the beekeeper’s discretion.
How to Kill Varroa Mites with Oxalic Acid
Oxalic acid may be potent enough to kill varroa mites but it does so with just very minimal to no harm caused to the bees at all. The compound is 70 times more toxic to the dreaded varroa mites than to the honeybees themselves.
However, there continue to be some heated discussions regarding the exact way that oxalic acid kills varroa mites. Some claim that it was because of the mites’ direct contact with the spiky dried crystals. Others also suggest that the mites die once they inhale the vapour.