In 2011, a USDA-ARS entomologist named Rosalind James published research on using ozone to control pests in honey bee hives in the Journal of Economic Entomology. Besides killing insect pests like the greater wax moth, which infests and destroys honeycomb, she found that ozone could be used to kill fungus and bacteria that harm honey bees.
Then in 2013 her team published more on the subject in the journal Agricultural Science. This time they reported that in addition to killing insect pests, fungus, and bacteria, ozone could also be used to remove pesticide residues that tend to accumulate in the comb.
“Ozone significantly reduced dimethylphenyl formamide, chlorpyrifos, and fenpyroximate contaminations in comb,” they wrote.
According to an article in the March 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine, “Dr. James envisions beekeepers fumigating combs after they’ve been removed from hive boxes and emptied of honey, but just before being placed in storage for the winter…Ozone offers an appealing solution for decontaminating combs before reuse because it’s a process that beekeepers can carry out using commercially available equipment. Although toxic at the concentrations that are used to kill pests and pathogens and degrade pesticides, ozone rapidly breaks down into water and oxygen.”
“In our next field trials, we are going to try using ozone on nesting boards for the alfalfa leaf-cutting bee, which is used for pollinating alfalfa crops intended for seed production,” she said.
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