EPA has registered a new biochemical miticide, Potassium Salts of Hops Beta Acids (K-HBAs), which is intended to provide another option for beekeepers to combat the devastating effects of the Varroa mite on honey bee colonies and to avoid the development of resistance toward other products. Rotating products to combat Varroa mites is an important tactic to prevent resistance development and to maintain the usefulness of individual pesticides.
The registrant, a company called Beta Tech Hop Products, derived K-HBAs from the cones of female hop plants, Humulus lupulus. To control mites on honey bees, the product is applied inside commercial beehives via plastic strips.
Varroa mites are parasites that feed on developing bees, leading to brood mortality and reduced lifespan of worker bees. They also transmit numerous honeybee viruses. The health of a colony can be critically damaged by an infestation of Varroa mites. Once infested, if left untreated, the colony will likely die.
This biochemical, like all biopesticides, is a naturally-occurring substance with minimal toxicity and a non-toxic mode of action against the target pest(s). There are numerous advantages to using biopesticides, including reduced toxicity to other organisms (not intended to be affected), effectiveness in small quantities, and reduced environmental impact.