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LEGOnauts

Survey About a Potential Solution for Treating Varroa Mites (6 questions)

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LEGOnauts

Hello! We are a team of 6th graders doing a project about treating bees for Varroa Mites.  Our theory is that Varroa Mites cannot tolerate low pH. We conducted an experiment that resulted an acidic bee smoker smoke that reduced the pH of smoke from a 7 to a 4.  We think that this might be a possibility for treating Varroa.

We’re collecting data with a survey and would appreciate it you would take some time to fill it out.

To help our solution, we have created a survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DKJG8LR.

To learn more, visit  legonauts.com

 

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Chris P.

Hey guys. Sounds like you have a really neat experiment in work. I'll be looking forward to learn what you find out.

I'm a first-year beekeeper, so I'm very much in the learning stage myself. I'm also not a biochemistry guy, so consider my thoughts and suggestions with that in mind.

I was thinking about your theory, and my first question was "I wonder if the Legonauts know that pine needles are naturally acidic." Growing up, I had always heard that plants that like acidic soil, like the dogwood tree and azaleas, like a pine needle mulch because the pine needles are acidic and make the soil acidic. So I looked on-line and found this very interesting study that contradicts what I had heard and believed. (You learn something new every day. Cool!) http://www.pinestrawdirect.com/pinestrawmulchacidity-separatingfactfromfictionthroughanalyticaltesting.pdf

I really liked the study report, because it very clearly told me what experiments were tried, along with the techniques used, to test the hypothesis that acidic pine needles would make soil more acidic. That made me think some more about your theory about acidic smoke being useful in the management of Varroa.

Might I suggest that you first test your assumption that adding lemon juice, which is acidic, to pine needles, will make an acidic smoke when burned. It's been way too long since I took organic chemistry, but I suspect that the process of combustion may cause the acidic components of the lemon juice to oxidize, rather than just evaporate. This could mean that the lemon-treated pine needle smoke will not be as acidic as you would otherwise expect.

To determine what effect, if any, adding lemon juice to the pine needles will have on the smoke, you might want to collect smoke from untreated pine needles and dissolve the smoke in distilled water. Maybe fill a two liter bottle with smoke and then pour in a measured amount of distilled water. Cap and shake vigorously for a known amount of time, say five or ten minutes. Then measure the pH of the water. Repeat the same process exactly with the treated pine needle smoke, measure the pH, and compare. If the pH is lower with the treated pine needle smoke, continue on with your original experiment. If not, do some research to find something else safe that you might add to the pine needles to make the smoke more acidic. Test that smoke the exact same way to confirm that it did lower the pH. Caution: Pine needles leave a tar-like deposit on the smoker when burned. To make sure you are not contaminating your experiment, and thus invalidating your results, you should probably either clean the smoker thoroughly after each burn, or else use two smokers: one for the treated pine needles, and one for your control.

Good luck with your experiments. I look forward to hearing what you discover.

Chris P.

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Chris P.

Guys:

I just re-read your initial post, and it sounds like you already did an experiment along the lines of what I was suggesting in my post above. I'd love to learn about what you did to determine that.

My above post demonstrates how important it is to carefully read things. I read the first two sentences and skimmed the rest. How embarrassing!

Best of luck with your experiment.

Chris P.

 

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