The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce’s Bureau of Plant Industry has received a Section 18 emergency exemption from EPA for a product containing thymol, eucalyptus oil and L-menthol that will help control varroa mites.

The product ApiLife VAR, manufactured by Chemicals LAIF, will be available for beekeepers to use until the expiration of the exemption on Dec. 31, 2003.

Varroa mites are reddish-brown in color and are about the size of a pinhead. They feed on the blood of adult bees and developing brood. The feeding weakens the adult bees and shortens their life span. Developing bees may emerge deformed without legs or wings.

"Bees make a vital contribution to the health of agriculture because they act as pollinators for many plants and provide honey," said Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell. "Controlling these pests before they have the chance to wipe out hundreds of honey bee hives is important and necessary."

The state agriculture department has authority under Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act to obtain an emergency exemption for a non-labeled use of a pesticide if significant losses of an agricultural commodity are likely and alternative, registered products are not available or effective.

The department administers the provisions of a Section 18 exemption through the Bureau of Plant Industry.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com