In this model the assumption is that bees benefit from an acidic environment and the mite from an alkaline environment. Via oxidization, the bee transforms glucose into gluconic acid and H2O2 for an acidic environment. The oxidization of glucose to form gluconic acid, triggered by the enzyme glucose-oxidase (created by fungi and bacteria), is an important process here. The mechanisms available to the mite through the micro-organisms have a counter acidifying effect. This can take place in various ways, for example through inhibiting glucose-oxidase or through increased catalase production.
An acidic (low) pH is beneficial to the availability of minerals, especially for iron. A positive soil composition example is the fairly acidic soil (pH = 4) in large parts of Australia. A negative soil composition example are the almost alkaline soils near Almere, Netherlands, and on sandy soils. A factor which may play a role here is that the composition of pollen is at least partially influenced by the type of soil on which the plants grow.
By administering formic acid or oxalic acid the beekeeper is implicitly acidifying the bees. A lower pH not only inhibits bacterial growth, but it also increases the availability of iron and decreases the relative availability of zinc and manganese.
By administering adding extra iron, the beekeeper modifies the ratios of these minerals. A relative deficiency of iron or a relative excess of other minerals is then balanced out.