Evaluating the Efficacy of 30 Different Essential Oils against Varroa destructor and Honey Bee Workers (Apis mellifera)

Insects. 2021 Nov 21;12(11):1045. doi: 10.3390/insects12111045.


Essential oils and their components are generally known for their acaricidal effects and are used as an alternative to control the population of the Varroa destructor instead of synthetic acaricides. However, for many essential oils, the exact acaricidal effect against Varroa mites, as well as the effect against honey bees, is not known. In this study, 30 different essential oils were screened by using a glass-vial residual bioassay. Essential oils showing varroacidal efficacy > 70% were tested by the complete exposure assay. A total of five bees and five mites were placed in the Petri dishes in five replications for each concentration of essential oil. Mite and bee mortality rates were assessed after 4, 24, 48, and 72 h. The LC50 values and selectivity ratio (SR) were calculated. For essential oils with the best selectivity ratio, their main components were detected and quantified by GC-MS/MS. The results suggest that the most suitable oils are peppermint and manuka (SR > 9), followed by oregano, litsea (SR > 5), carrot, and cinnamon (SR > 4). Additionally, these oils showed a trend of the increased value of selective ratio over time. All these oils seem to be better than thymol (SR < 3.2), which is commonly used in beekeeping practice. However, the possible use of these essential oils has yet to be verified in beekeeping practice.

Keywords: Varroa mite; acaricidal effect; complete exposure bioassay; honey bee; screening.