Apistan : What is it and Why we don’t use it

What is Apistan?

Apistan is a product for treating varroa mites in your beehive, here is some information about it and why we don’t use it.

History in New Zealand

Apistan was first approved in July 2000 by the Minister of Agriculture. This is the same year varroa mite’s were discovered near Auckland in New Zealand. You can see an article about this approval here:- Apistan – Varroa Mite Chemical Approved

Active Component in Apistan

The active Component is Tau-fluvalinate which is a synthetic pyrethroid. Tau-Fluvalinate is a fat-soluble compound.

Problems with Apistan


Due to possible misuse of the product, many varroa mites in New Zealand are now resistant to Apistan. So the product has become less effective in killing mites.

There has been several cases reported that this is happening in New Zealand. Here is a good article about how to test for resistance with your bees.

To check if your mites are resistant to the treatment you are using, here is a handy document by David Cushman:-Testing For Apistan Resistant Varroa Mites

Dr Mark Goodwin from Plant and Food discussed this during his speech at the Varroa Workshop in Hamilton, you can listen to that talk on this podcast:- NBA Workshop – Mercury Island VSH – Mark Goodwin

Residues in Wax Foundation

In a study in 2008 Dr Maryann Frazier Analysed colonies suffering from CCD, she found “The most significant difference in pesticide levels relative to bee health was that fluvalinate residues tended to be higher in pollen, wax and brood of weak, dead and recovering colonies relative to strong colonies. Highest levels of pesticides were found in the wax, followed by the pollen and brood, but levels in wax were much more variable than in pollen or brood. The fluvalinate levels found in brood are within a lethal range for honey bees.”

Webinar – Pesticides In Our Beehives with Maryann Frazier

Pesticides In Our Beehives with Maryann Frazier

Beeswax has lipophilic properties which means that it absorbs the Fluvalinate and leads to an accumulation and persistence in Beeswax. This could be a contributing factor in colony Colony collapse disorder (CCD). Luckily not found in New Zealand yet.

I conclude that using a Fluvalinate based product for a long period without rotating treatment and frames could lead to a unacceptable amount of the chemical in your colony, thus leading to issues with the bees.

Effect on Bee Heath

Apistan causes more Deformed Wing Virus

A study was carried out by Joachim de Miranda in Januray 2012. Mr de Mirandaa is bee ecologist at the Swedish University of Agriculture Sciences in Uppsala, Sweden. The study concluded that Apistan actually caused an increase in Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) in Bee colonies.

You can read more about this issue Here “Pesticide May Give Honeybee Virus an Advantage

Causes Queen to weigh less and Drones die earlier

Jennifer Berry wrote an article for the Bee Culture Journal in 2008 entitled “Pesticides, Bees And Wax”.

A study was performed to determine if the various miticides on the market at that time, effect the bees in anyway.

I encourage you to read the full article, which is HERE.


She discovered two studies the first was by the Rinderer’s group in 1999, investigating Drones that were treated with Apistan. Their findings showed a 9.4% reduction of drone survival in these colonies. Other negative effects observed were lower weights, mucus gland and seminal vesicle weights and the number of spermatozoa (Rinderer et al. 1999).

The Queen from Honey 1 - Can you the eggs?

In 2002 a study was conducted by a group of researchers from across America. This study was to examine the effects of queens reared in wax exposed to varying concentrations of fluvalinate and coumaphos.

Queens weighed significantly less when exposed to high levels of fluvalinate. The concentrations were higher than doses a beekeeper would apply to a colony. But these levels could be in a colony, due to misuse or the accumulation of fluvalinate in wax (Haarmann et al. 2002).


The increased residues in the wax is enough for me to not use a Fluvalinate based product, other products that contain Fluvalinate are Mavrik/Klartan and Minadox.

Resistance issues in New Zealand is another factor, so you need to test that your mites are not already showing resistance to this product.

We personally haven’t used Apistan since 2010, and after this reading the research done. I can’t see I will be using it again.

We would be interested to know if you still use it and how is it working for you and your bees? Please Comment Below…

Futher Reading

Vita’s Product page :-Apistan Product page
Jennifer Berrys article:- Pesticides, Bees And Wax

Media Credits

15 thoughts on “Apistan : What is it and Why we don’t use it

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    Ann Chilcott says:

    I totally agree with you Gary and I will never use Apistan again. The varroa mites are now resistant to it in parts of Scotland where I live. I have recently had great results from using formic acid.

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    Emily says:

    I don’t use it as pyrethroid resistant mites are widespread in London. It’s a shame as it’s a very effective treatment, or at least it was before the mites develop resistance. I use Apiguard and oxalic acid.

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      Gary Fawcett says:

      Hi Emily,

      Yes that is the major issue with it in New Zealand, a lot of areas are finding the mites are resistance to Apistan. Hence the need to look for alternative products.

      Looking forward to chatting with guys next week…Gary

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    Lennox says:

    Hi Gary,
    I almost just joined your group and find your articles and site most interesting/iinformative. This is my third year of beekeeping and I must confess…only 6 months of experience because of the acceptance of the misguided assurance that “you can just check once in a while”. Went up to 15 hives and down to TWO at the end of last year (red ants, moths, absconding, poison from an overzealous assistane trying to kill the ant pests) and now back up to 9 (I did purchase three)
    I have stopped using Apistan.. (still very widely used… and recommended by the local Apiculture Unit) beause of my experience of its temporary and limited effectiveness, my readings, and intent to make my Apiary as organic as I can. I tried Apiguard this year and have seen marked improvement so unless there is some adverse information will continue to use it.. if I use anything at all.
    Keep the comments and articles coming. I’m learning (so much to learn!)

    • Avatar photo
      Gary Fawcett says:

      Thanks Lennox, why almost joined our group 🙂 Please sign up for our newsletter and join our adventure 🙂

      It’s great to hear that you haven’t given up after all your issues.

      Yes Beekeeping a constant learning endeavor and you never stop learning ways to keep you bees safe and alive. Remember mistakes are only mistakes if you don’t learn from them.

      We have never used Apiguard, but use Api Life Var which also contains Tymol. So I’m guessing we would get similar results. It does pay to rotate your treatments or your mites may build up a resistance to the one product you use.

      Thanks for you positive comments Lennox…Gary

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    Debi Jacka says:

    As a novice there is so much information out there about what to use, what not to use, it is so very frustrating knowing what to do. I was told ask 5 beekeepers one question and you will get 10 answers which is so true. Over time I have learnt never to stop reading about bees and what I do decide to use was the best choice at the time. I decided to try natural, nothing but icing sugar but I soon learnt that wasnt doing much for my hive. Then I tried Apiguard and I couldnt count the varroa there were thousands that dropped over the two weeks so that was the right choice for me. My grandaughters chew and swallow the honey filled wax so I also had to take that into consideration. I so wish it was as simple as sticking a bunch of herbs in the hive and that would only effect all the nasties in there. Beekeeping certainly has opened my eyes to a lot, it can be as complex or as simple as I want it to be, and by reading all the articles you and Margaret put it, it just further enhances everything I am learning. Thank you Gary.

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      Gary Fawcett says:

      Wow thanks so much for sharing your findings Debi, and thanks for reading our articles.

      We enjoy finding out information and writing about it up for other people, we also encourage people to do further research themselves and keep learning.

      I totally agree Debi that you need to keep researching and find what works for you are your bees.

      Thanks heaps for the feedback Debi…Gary

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    lemmens raphael says:

    hi, we have used apistan , apiguard, oxal acid, formic acid. Best is use treatments with interval of different products, so nature as possible , in combination with cutting of drone comb traps ec…. so you don’t give mites a chance to build up resistances. We are in tropical beekeeping, so we can have production ,almost year around. regards

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      Gary Fawcett says:

      Great to hear from you Lemmens, yes indeed changing your treatments every few months is a great way to reduce the mite chance to build up resistance to a treatment.

      Where in the world are you?


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    Bee says:

    I don’t use chemicals in my hives any more if I can possibly avoid it; here in the UK I get some very harsh reactions when I tell people that as it seems to be that so many of the more seasoned beekeepers in the UK have used chemicals for so long they are horrified at the thought of letting the bees try to sort it out for themselves. I went into Winter with three colonies and came out with three; now I have 6 and want to see how they all do again this year to survive Winter without dumping harsh acids and other chemicals over my bees. I have no issue with people that use chemicals if they want to, I just prefer not to myself if I can get away with it. The use of propolis by the bees to self medicate is something I think is really interesting too – don’t scrape it all away! They need that stuff! Thanks again Gary for a great show.

    • Avatar photo
      Gary Fawcett says:

      Thanks Matt for the feedback, yes indeed if you can avoid using chemicals, I also feel its much better for the bees.

      Sure being organic can be more work on the part of the beekeeper, but we think it keeps the bees more healthy.

      Great to hear I look forward to chatting with you Matt about your methods…Gary

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    Chris Mitchell says:

    Hi Gary, we are using OAG strips using 3x stitched gib tape at 40% OA. However, someone called me the other day who had used apiguard gel and for whatever reason the treatment hadn’t worked. One hive was dead and it sounded like the lot of them had an enormous varroa load. So, they asked my advice and I said to put in APISTAN as a last resort. In a case like that where it is really probably already too late and a bit of a last gasp attempt to survive, I think a hive that hasn’t EVER had apistan in the past is likely to stand a better chance of survival. But only as a one-off. So, yes, there are circumstances where I’d recommend it. Right now it is supposed to be nearly winter, but it is actually pretty warm and all the hives are operating with substantial amounts of brood. OA Vapour is good for phoretic knockdown but isn’t enough for a fast treatment.. I told him if he couldn’t source Apistan then get Bayvarol instead. Not sure what else to tell someone in that situation.

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      Margaret Groot says:

      Hi Chris, the other option could be oxalic acid vaporization for 6 weeks, if they wanted to stay organic, we have been able to help a hive recover from Heavy Mite Load but agree and state in our work that if left too late – no treatment will help once the population declines too much. This just shows that folks who want to be ‘organic’ are not monitoring enough to understand the level of varroa their hive is experiencing – these days we are treating regularly and monitoring and as we monitor weekly it lets us know if build-up of varroa has increased/decreased – my advice to the beekeeper who contacted you is for them to ask if they have enough time to use organic methods and to consider finding an easy way to monitor (which would be a mesh baseboard with inspection board so it can be done anytime of the year). Monitoring would have helped the person to see changes inside and entrance observation out front would have seen sick bees. But whatever treatment they end up using because regardless of what people are saying, varroa are showing they are harder to kill – because varroa destructor mite are resistent due to the synthetic-miticides (this was stated by Dr Mark Goodwin in 2012 !) So without monitoring or understanding whats going on is a key job, especially for beginners. If you are intersted here is a link to Dr Goodwin’s talk : https://kiwimana.co.nz/the-kiwimana-buzz-podcast-5-nba-workshop-mercury-island-vsh-mark-goodwin/ I think you did what you could. Thanks for your feedback Chris. Regards, Margaret and gary …it’s the kiwimana buzz…

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    Neil says:

    Hmmm one question-5 keepers- 10 answers.

    Newbie hobbiest of 2 years in Southland N.Z.
    Can anyone give a simple answer to guide in the right direction.

    1/ list recommended miticides to use in Spring treatment.
    2/ list recommended miticides to use in Autumn treatment.

    Alternating to now have used Bayvarol in Autumn and Apitraz in Spring, ingredients of each miticide differ, confusing with many with similar names. I had to use Formic Pro to get the mites under control pre-Autumn this year. T.I.A.

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