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Thermal Treatment for Varroa Mite Poll

Mummzie

Please read $30 as <$30 (cost up to $30)

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Thermal Treatment for Varroa Mite Poll  

14 members have voted

  1. 1. How much approximately does it cost you to treat a hive annually for Varroa mite, including labour, testing, transport, and chemically treating hives?

  2. 2. Do you feel that the current treatments are effective in terms of Varroa mite control?

    • Yes
    • Yes but it is problematic managing different treatment methods
    • I am seeing some resistance occurring, and am concerned about the ongoing viability
    • No, I am experiencing a detrimental amount of colony collapse despite following treatment procedures
  3. 3. How do you feel about using thermal treatment to control Varroa mites (tick as many as you like)

    • If a solution was available that was easy to use and cost effective, I would likely make the jump to thermal treatment
    • Makes sense from a biological perspective, but concerned about the effect on my bees?
    • Interesting, but seems impractical for large-scale/commercial use
    • I would like to see more scientific evidence before considering using thermal treatment
    • I am aware of some of the hobbyist solutions, but they are too expensive or require too much labour.
    • I am already using thermal treatment, and effectiveness isn't good
      0
    • I am already using thermal treatment, and it is working well in my process
    • Sounds like snake oil


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I think your basic treatment costs start too high. I am sure those of us using OA have much lower costs than $30 a hive. Even allowing time for alcohol washes.

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Thanks for your feedback @Markypoo, looks like I can't go back and edit the poll, so we will assume that when anyone selects $30 it will include less than.

We are starting from a pretty vague understanding from MPI which indicated that before Varroa introduction into NZ beekeepers could manage 800 hives vs 350 now.

https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/34329/direct

Incidentally are you vaporizing, making your own strips with glycerin or other?

 

Thanks

James

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I have tried to fill in the poll, but because I already do thermal treatments some of the questions do not present any option which applies to me, but they are compulsory. Sorry therefore I cannot participate. I am a hobby beekeeper for just 3 years experimenting with thermal treatments with various success. I am totally against chemical treatments for many reasons and I do not like acid treatments. So far I can say thermal treatment is no option for commercial beekeepers at least using the methods I know of. It takes me about 2 hours per hive per treatment and I treat at least twice a year but can treat at any time. What hourly rate would you expect for a hobby bee keeper????

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Ahh, snake oil. I'm just glad we've already got effective treatment options

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10 hours ago, tommy dave said:

Ahh, snake oil. I'm just glad we've already got effective treatment options

 

Based on what are you calling it snake oil.  Please point to your proof of statement.

 

Making accusations is not acceptable.

 

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, Trevor Gillbanks said:

 

Based on what are you calling it snake oil.  Please point to your proof of statement.

 

Making accusations is not acceptable.

 

the person who posted the survey provided snake oil as one of the response options - that's what i was going off. I didn't simply bring "snake oil" into the conversation out of nowhere.

for what it's worth @James @ Hivesite - there was no insult or offence intended by my 'snake oil' comment

Edited by tommy dave
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10 minutes ago, tommy dave said:

the person who posted the survey provided snake oil as one of the response options - that's what i was going off. I didn't simply bring "snake oil" into the conversation out of nowhere.

for what it's worth @James @ Hivesite - there was no insult or offence intended by my 'snake oil' comment

Sorry Tommy I did not see that on the survey. Your good. My bad.

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16 hours ago, PeterS said:

I have tried to fill in the poll, but because I already do thermal treatments some of the questions do not present any option which applies to me, but they are compulsory. Sorry therefore I cannot participate. I am a hobby beekeeper for just 3 years experimenting with thermal treatments with various success. I am totally against chemical treatments for many reasons and I do not like acid treatments. So far I can say thermal treatment is no option for commercial beekeepers at least using the methods I know of. It takes me about 2 hours per hive per treatment and I treat at least twice a year but can treat at any time. What hourly rate would you expect for a hobby bee keeper????

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your comments, and sorry about the poll (this is my first foray into crafting one), interested to dive a bit deeper on what you mean by "various success".

Do you think treating more regularly would be beneficial?

Regarding the hourly rate for a hobby beekeeper, that's a great question, referencing a few sources, I believe $25 / hour is reasonable, when comparing to industry.

https://www.stats.govt.nz/information-releases/labour-market-statistics-income-june-2019-quarter

https://www.careers.govt.nz/jobs-database/farming-fishing-forestry-and-mining/agriculture-horticulture/beekeeper/about-the-job

https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/34329/direct

 

If you haven't already check out the brief introduction to what we are developing at Hivesite, and happy to give more insight if you are interested.

- James

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If I am reading correctly, the heating unit is in the queen excluder, and as heat rises, this would mean that the honey box would get more heating than the brood box, while the varroa are mainly in the brood box.

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Hi James, what are your ideas to keep wax and propolis away from your heating unit?

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6 hours ago, Sailabee said:

If I am reading correctly, the heating unit is in the queen excluder, and as heat rises, this would mean that the honey box would get more heating than the brood box, while the varroa are mainly in the brood box.

Hi Sailabee, the heating unit is on the base, the purpose of the Queen Excluder is to help minimize the convection and conduction of heat into the honey super(s), maintaining a consistent temperature range in the brood box. We are also cognizant, that although the treatments are only relatively short, we do not want to unduly raise the Honey HMF levels.

1 hour ago, Bron said:

Hi James, what are your ideas to keep wax and propolis away from your heating unit?

Hi Bron,

 Wax that is in contact with the heating unit on the base will melt during a treatment and flow off the heater.

The bees do a reasonable job keeping the base clean so propolis and other debris, shouldn't be much of an issue.

I'm not sure if this entirely answers your question?

Below is a photo taken by our integrated camera in our first thermal treatment prototype 4 months after installation.

Hivesite Proto C Cam.png

10 hours ago, tommy dave said:

the person who posted the survey provided snake oil as one of the response options - that's what i was going off. I didn't simply bring "snake oil" into the conversation out of nowhere.

for what it's worth @James @ Hivesite - there was no insult or offence intended by my 'snake oil' comment

None taken @tommy dave, we are trying to build a reasonable understanding of how beekeepers feel about thermal treatment, so getting the full spectrum is expected. If you do have any more details about what influenced your perspective, even if anecdotal, be glad to hear it.

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On 14/05/2020 at 12:15 PM, James @ Hivesite said:

Thanks for your feedback @Markypoo, looks like I can't go back and edit the poll, so we will assume that when anyone selects $30 it will include less than.

We are starting from a pretty vague understanding from MPI which indicated that before Varroa introduction into NZ beekeepers could manage 800 hives vs 350 now.

https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/34329/direct

Incidentally are you vaporizing, making your own strips with glycerin or other?

 

Thanks

James

Make my own strips. Its only a couple of dollars per hive. I have never used synthetics. But I am not a commercial. Only a hobbyist. Plus I run topbars and long langstroths.

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10 minutes ago, Markypoo said:

Make my own strips. Its only a couple of dollars per hive. I have never used synthetics. But I am not a commercial. Only a hobbyist. Plus I run topbars and long langstroths.

And seemingly have your vocation under control enough to pop back up here ! Well done. 🙂

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14 hours ago, yesbut said:

And seemingly have your vocation under control enough to pop back up here ! Well done. 🙂

Yes its been busy. As soon as school locked down we had 2 weeks to try and work out how to turn our courses into online classes. And during that holiday time students were emailing requesting work as they were bored after a week. Now I can go back to reading NZBees during my breaks.

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On 14/05/2020 at 12:15 PM, James @ Hivesite said:

Thanks for your feedback @Markypoo, looks like I can't go back and edit the poll, so we will assume that when anyone selects $30 it will include less than.

We are starting from a pretty vague understanding from MPI which indicated that before Varroa introduction into NZ beekeepers could manage 800 hives vs 350 now.

https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/34329/direct

Incidentally are you vaporizing, making your own strips with glycerin or other?

 

Thanks

James

 

I'm not sure if this statement is accurate though (the 800 to 350).  There are beekeeping outfits out there that run 800 hives per beekeeper.  They are fully resourced though - Queens on hand, sugar syrup available, gear all ready, and no other extraneous tasks.  In practice a beekeeper wont go to hives, and open them up with just one task in mind - varroa management.  It is likely you are there to do multiple things one of which is varroa.  

 

As for treatment costs, it is possible to treat a hive with organic acids for something like $10-$15 per year, while with synthetics it may be $30.  It really depends on hive strength.

 

A major cost for varroa though is when we get it wrong - weaker hives that don't collect as much honey or thrive and spread mites to out other hives, or, hives that get hit so badly they die.

 

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I think the  800 to 350 figure is more a reflection on the gross mismanagement of corporate beekeeping than the extra workload involved with varoa. It does increase your workload but varoa control can usually be worked in with another job and I can't see how it could increase workloads by more than 20%. 

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16 hours ago, john berry said:

I think the  800 to 350 figure is more a reflection on the gross mismanagement of corporate beekeeping than the extra workload involved with varoa. It does increase your workload but varoa control can usually be worked in with another job and I can't see how it could increase workloads by more than 20%. 

 

16 hours ago, CraBee said:

 

I'm not sure if this statement is accurate though (the 800 to 350).  There are beekeeping outfits out there that run 800 hives per beekeeper.  They are fully resourced though - Queens on hand, sugar syrup available, gear all ready, and no other extraneous tasks.  In practice a beekeeper wont go to hives, and open them up with just one task in mind - varroa management.  It is likely you are there to do multiple things one of which is varroa.  

 

As for treatment costs, it is possible to treat a hive with organic acids for something like $10-$15 per year, while with synthetics it may be $30.  It really depends on hive strength.

 

A major cost for varroa though is when we get it wrong - weaker hives that don't collect as much honey or thrive and spread mites to out other hives, or, hives that get hit so badly they die.

 

Thanks for your insight @CraBee & @john berry

If I understand correctly to run 800 hives per keeper still means additional labour from support staff to achieve this, so there is some equivalency that could be derived in terms of how MPI states the situation, however it is possibly more in the realm of 800 to ~640.

Could there be another way of looking at it, for example if you work each hive on a 4 week rotation, if Varroa wasn't an issue could this be extended to say a 5 week rotation, or unlikely?

 

In your personal enterprises do you do Varroa counts, or just do the biannual treatments?

 

@CraBee do the treatment costs you estimate, include all labour/costs (planning, purchasing, making (if applicable), inspections/counts,  application, removal, safe disposal, etc)

 

It's certainly proving difficult to put a $ value on what Varroa costs when you include variables such as the drag on honey production from the Varroa themselves or the treatments, and colony collapse.

 

Thanks

James

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How many hives you can look after depends on a lot of different factors including how far you are going to work them and what else you do i.e. do you extract your own honey,shift hives for pollination et cetera. We used to run 2000 hives with two people including a lot of comb honey production and pollination but no extraction. I now run 370 hives by myself with comb honey but no extraction or pollination. On the other hand I'm now considerably older and work about three days a week on average and generally less than eight hours a day. There is a beekeeper who comes down from Cambridge(Five hours) and stays just down the road from me and then drives for another  I would guess 2 1/2 hours to get  to his hives.Hate to think what the economics of that is.

370 hives as a paying hobby for me and keeps me out of mischief but it sure ain't a full-time job.

I hate varoa but my long-term records (over 50 years) strongly suggests that honey production has gone up since varoa and the extra production would more than cover the costs of treatment at least up till the last few years when overstocking has become so problematical.

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On 17/05/2020 at 7:13 PM, James @ Hivesite said:

None taken @tommy dave, we are trying to build a reasonable understanding of how beekeepers feel about thermal treatment, so getting the full spectrum is expected. If you do have any more details about what influenced your perspective, even if anecdotal, be glad to hear it.

Over the last five years I've seen multiple claims about being able to treat varroa through thermal treatments easily, often from people with next to zero experience beekeeping. Of these multiple claims from people suggesting they have an easy to use product, none seem to have amounted to anything.

 

often the people making these claims have been seeking investment support. In every case it looks as though they've managed to part money from save-the-bees fools. I hope your investors, if you're doing this on someone else's dime, have their eyes wide open.

 

I suspect that's the origin of my perspective. Good luck to you in getting this off the ground and coming up with something workable in the field and at scale.

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Creeping americanisms. Just as well I've given up worrying about a lot of stuff. Dime indeed. 

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On 19/05/2020 at 6:01 PM, tommy dave said:

Over the last five years I've seen multiple claims about being able to treat varroa through thermal treatments easily, often from people with next to zero experience beekeeping. Of these multiple claims from people suggesting they have an easy to use product, none seem to have amounted to anything.

 

often the people making these claims have been seeking investment support. In every case it looks as though they've managed to part money from save-the-bees fools. I hope your investors, if you're doing this on someone else's dime, have their eyes wide open.

 

I suspect that's the origin of my perspective. Good luck to you in getting this off the ground and coming up with something workable in the field and at scale.

Hi @tommy dave, thanks again for your taking the time to share your thoughts, it is really appreciated.

Is it fair to say then that your skepticism is more about the implementation of thermal treatment more so than the science?

If the science is also a sticking point, there are white papers and articles both for and against thermal treatment that we have collected, and happy to share.

 

It is also our experience that the products historically or currently available are lacking in terms of usability, cost, or simply poor design that isn't conducive to efficient beekeeping.

Part of that can be attributed to timing and technology availability, now helping our cause:

  • The rapid evolution of IOT hardware, cloud computing, and satellite short burst data communications
  • Advances in Lithium Ion Battery capacity, and reducing costs
  • Advances in Solar Cell efficiency and reducing costs
  • Machine Learning (AI)

Incidentally one solution at least, the Might Mite Killer, despite several short comings, including possibly dubious marketing tactics, setup, efficiency, and labour, does seem to be getting a user base, which is inspiring some confidence.

 

A bit about us: We are a team of 4, currently self funding, but yes looking for funding, in the first instance so that a fully fledged research trial can be done with support from a research institution, starting in spring. One of us is a hobbyist beekeeper of 3 years and SME owner. Three of us are Engineers who have worked together for more than 14 years with a range of disciplines, mechanical, software, simulation, optics, and thermal design, etc.

Prior to this endeavor we were working in the user experience group for a large global automotive company (Delphi / Aptiv). So we take user experience and reliability seriously.

 

It is a complex biological and mechanical challenge to solve, and we want to do it in a transparent and ethical manner, otherwise we can be added to the list of fools.

 

Thanks

James

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Posted (edited)

As a biologist I am interested in physical treatment instead of chemical.. I am a hobbyist, and being retired I do have time but even so squashing each individual Varroa specimen manually is no option 🙂. Inspired by the equipment for hyperthermia treatment as it was developed at the University of Tübingen in the 80's and by the results claimed I looked at equipment and prices. The price of a decent instrument that ensures homogeneous temperature distribution and controlled humidity (in EU about €2500 for a 20 frame unit) is in my opinion prohibitive for hobbyists and I agree with PeterS that so far it seems not ideal for commercial application.

But I found the idea interesting enough to home build a box for ~ 20 frames, just for personal use. Interesting exercise the past few months.... it turned out to be not so easy to achieve a homogeneous temperature throughout the box so that all frames are treated the same and not one area ends up 'well done' and an other area 'rare'; I would not be surprised if half-baked treatment might result in dead larvae/pupae as well as Varroa in the hotter areas whereas Varroa might survive in the cooler areas. There is another potential risk although I do not think it has ever been looked into seriously: that Varroa surviving the treatment may develop to be more heat tolerant which would get us back to the issue of resistance. So it seemed appropriate to improve the initial build. With a lot of tweaking and rebuilding the variation is now within 0.3° throughout the box during treatment and temperatures can be controlled reliably. Afterwards I did understand the €2500 a bit better.....

The thermal box treats brood, so its predominant use is in spring varroa control or at least as long as there is brood. In the meantime (after consulting with a seasoned beekeeper who was friendly enough to teach me the ropes) I decided to use oxalic acid/glycerine strips this autumn. I still struggle with the question "How to perform a relevant test run with the thermal box?"; it will be impossible to achieve with any degree of reliability the way a biologist in a lab would be able to, especially with only two hives.
Anyway, it was fun building, I look forward to spring when real testing can be done!

 

 

Edited by NatureAlley
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Beekeepers who have been living in the synthetic dream need to wake up and realise that they are failing. Unfortunately the organic acids are either dangerous, not always effective or both.

For thermal treatment to be practical for me it would have to treat a pallet of hives at a time without causing damage to the bees or brood. Given that bees are remarkably good at controlling their own temperature and the fact that they die very quickly when overheated I somehow doubt there will ever be a successful commercial treatment but then scientists and engineers have been  coming up with brilliant and innovative solutions for all sorts of problems for years so don't give up just because of my pessimism..

This is way out in  the left field but what about using visual recognition software coupled with a laser.

Current varoa control tends to try and kill all or the majority of mites at one time but  something that killed a few mites continuously so that there reproduction rate fell below one would actually give better permanent control.

It would be difficult but not impossible to have a system which identified Infected bees entering and leaving the hive , They could then be redirected for either some kind of treatment or destruction.

PS if someone can make the last idea work then don't forget to add wasps to the software.

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On 20/05/2020 at 9:28 PM, James @ Hivesite said:

Hi @tommy dave, thanks again for your taking the time to share your thoughts, it is really appreciated.

Is it fair to say then that your skepticism is more about the implementation of thermal treatment more so than the science?

yes, exactly

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