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A scientific note on the effect of oxalic acid on honey bee larvae

  • Bethany Terpin
  • Deja Perkins
  • Stephanie Richter
  • Jennifer Kraft LeaveyEmail author
  • Terry W. Snell
  • John A. Pierson
Scientific note


The approval of oxalic acid as a treatment for Varroa destructor infestation of honey bee hives gives beekeepers an additional option for controlling this devastating parasite and disease vector, but the effects of oxalic acid on developing bees are not completely understood. In this study, we find that doses of oxalic acid not reported to be toxic to adult bees are toxic to larval bees. While it has been recommended that oxalic acid only be used during broodless periods because it does not penetrate cappings and is only effective in killing phoretic mites, it is tempting to use it at other times of the year because of the dearth of effective treatment options. Knowing whether oxalic acid is toxic to larvae and at what doses is important for beekeepers as they manage their colony population throughout the year.


Varroa destructor oxalic acid honey bee Apis mellifera 


Authors’ contribution

All authors have contributed equally to this work.

Funding information

This work was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant no. 2016-67032-24986.


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Copyright information

© INRA, DIB and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Science ProgramBerry CollegeRomeUSA
  2. 2.Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology ProgramNC State UniversityRaleighUSA
  3. 3.Georgia Tech Research InstituteGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.School of Biological SciencesGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA

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