Is there a product you have that would be applicable on a large scale? We have thousands of hives. They are your typical 8 frames two boxes high hives with a top and a bottom. Do you sell just a solar top that can be placed on top of a regular hive box? So that it is something that can be used and applied commercially? Thanks, Ernie Ferraro
Trearmosolar ceiling won’t work alone, so it is not possible to use it on classical hives: It is necessary to heat the brood slowly, so no harm is done. Moreover, without specially constructed and insulated boxes with front window, it is not possible to achieve it. But it is possible to treat more colonies in one Thermosolar Hive. It is not only a hive but also a treatment device. You can treat more colonies from classical hives just in few days if you have the ratio for example 5:1 or 10:1 of classical and Thermosolar hives. Hive has also many benefits for commercial beekeepers, because of its long-term thermal support, for example significantly higher honey yield. Experience of beekeepers who use Thermosolar Hive shows It is necessary to note that Thermosolar Hive is not ideal for frequent transportation from one place to another because glasses could be damaged during transport. So we do not recommend it to commercial beekeepers who transport their colonies several times per season. I would recommend you also our anti-swarming method that is less time consuming than most of the other methods and is much more effective – you can find more about it on our Blog.
Question: Ernie Ferraro
Thanks for the reply. Can you expand further on your comment about treating my current hives? Are you implying that we take out our existing frames from The hives and place them in your solar hives for a period Of 150 Minutes? Then repeat the process with untreated hives? Also what are your thoughts on this, your add mentions making custom thermosolar boxes, what about creating an extra large thermosolar hive that can be applied as a skirt to fit over or around an existing commercial hive? It would be large enough to leave enough space in all directions as to not overinsulate. One would extract the commercial tops off and leave them off. I’m curious if this concept would mimic the process to the incumposed commercial hive inside of your thermosolar hive. Perhaps heating it slowly. One could apply a 100 of the thermosolar hives to the commercial hives for a few hours at a time, treating a set or so a day. then repeat the process to the other untreated sets. In any case, your product is definitely a step in the right direction. I would greatly like to avoid medicating my bees. Thanks for your research, it’s greatly appreciated
Thank you very much, Ernesto! Thermosolar Hive is primarily a treatment device. You can take the brood frames from classical hives, place them into Thermosolar Hives, treat them and then repeat the process with brood frames from other hives. The only problem could appear in places where there is not enough summer sun and which are on the northern edge of honeybee forage regions (like northern Canada, northern Scotland, northern Scandinavia), because than you can have a problem to find enough suitable sunny or mostly sunny days with daily high temperatures above 20°C. In such parts of the world, we would not recommend to use this method of treating more colonies, only to use Thermosolar Hive to treat its one colony. It will be easy to find a few days suitable for treatment of one colony (or more colonies in more Thermosolar hives), but it could be hard to find enough days to treat more colonies. But if the conditions are better than this, there is no problem to treat more colonies in one Thermosolar Hive. As for extra large Thermosolar Hive suited over commercial hives, I would say that it is an interesting idea, however, it would cause a lot of problems which are solved in the construction we have designed. For example, different temperature and humidity can easily cause deformations of the wood in classical hive construction. We have such experience from our beginnings several years ago when we have tried to heat normal hives. This is why Thermosolar Hive is insulated with special foils and is made of high-quality wood with special joints and connections. So this is probably not the right way. There are several options for commercial beekeepers, for example, you can treat more colonies with only small part of Thermosolar hives or you can try one or two hives and you will see how strong is the colony and how much honey it brings and at the end of the season you can try to treat more colonies in Thermosolar Hive to see the results. It is an investment with a quite fast return, especially in western countries with relatively high honey prices. And there is also thermotherapy – treating without chemicals, that many customers would appreciate and which can be an advantage on the market.
How effective is this on the Varroa mite?
Thermotherapy in Thermosolar Hive kills all the mites on the brood and part of the mites on adult bees, especially on house bees. It is usually declared that during brood rearing about 80 – 85% of mites are on the brood. Added to this is another big part stuck on house bees (around 10 %). Those Varroa mites which are not in the capped brood generally do not suck on older forager bees, but mainly on house bees. In summer the female Varroa mites suck on the bees on average for only 3-5 days. Then they return to the brood chamber and have themselves capped into the brood cells. Thus we can say that since the 7 to 14 day after hatching from the brood and sucking on the bees, remaining female mites are capped again in a cell to start reproductive cycle there. Therefore, if the beekeeper carries out a repeated thermosolar heating a week or two later, he/she manages to kill even those females that escaped the first treatment. Mites are killed together with their offspring of both sexes because all these mites are now trapped under the caps of the brood and cannot escape the heat. This is how the entire population of mites is wiped out completely after the second heating of the brood chamber. The result is the extinction of the entire population of mites in the hive.
Question: Selective Adaptation
So when we make the more heat resistant what then lol
This possibility is very unlikely. Varroa destructor has developed together with the Indian bee (Apis ceranae). Varroa parasitizes naturally on Indian bee and is unable to kill the bees. This is because Indian bee heats the worker brood to 35.5°C (95.9°F) and the drone brood to 33°C (91.4°F), therefore Varroa parasitizes only on the drone brood. At temperatures above 35°C (95°F) Varroa is no longer able to multiply. If the mite were able to adapt to higher temperatures, it would certainly have done so over the millions of years of coevolution with the Indian bee. That makes the difference from treatments using acids or pesticides, where the growing resistance is evident already after several years of application.
Question: Ion Lloyd
I kept bees in the desert for many years and summer temps were from 115 to 120 for weeks yet the bees still had mites so sorry, not convinced.
There is a huge difference between air temperatures outside the hive, air temperatures inside the hive and brood temperature. Bees thermoregulate very effectively and can easily decrease temperature. For example, one bee research institute tried to kill the mites with two hairdryers that blow hot air into the hive. They were not successful. Bees were able to ventilate even this strong current of hot air. So do the bees in the desert. In extreme conditions like this, they probably can’t thermoregulate the whole hive, but they will thermoregulate the brood which will stay around 34-35°C. The device that is able to eliminate the mites has to be very strong in its output and more importantly do it very differently than to blow hot air inside the hive. It took us a really long time to figure out the combination of a strong output overcoming airing of the bees and at the same time ensure that the brood will be warm slowly. So it is obvious how the mites survived in your hives. Majority of the mites (80-90%) are on the sealed brood. Bees were able to maintain ideal temperatures of the brood and therefore the majority of the mites were completely safe. On the other hand, Thermosolar Hive focuses on thermal treatment of the brood where it eliminates all the mites there. It does not focus on increasing the temperature in the whole hive or on the elimination of the minority of the mites on older bees with hardened cuticle (about 5% of the mites), which could be tricky for this bees. But it is easy to repeat the treatment several days later when the rest of the mite population move from bees to the brood.
Does the hive need to be in the sun all day for it to work?
It does not need to be all day, but at least from around 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. It is the time when thermotherapy takes place. Before and after this period, the place can be in shade. However, we advise beekeepers to choose sunny places, especially early morning sun is beneficial.
I like the Idea of the solar hive but at this price, it is not reasonable for the beekeeper to pay 600.00 for 40 + hives each.
It is a matter of view: We understand that to change all the hives if you have 40+ of them is costly. However, this is the same as if you think how much it is to start beekeeping and buy equipment and classical hives in one year – it is also very costly. But it is usual for beekeepers to buy/change their equipment gradually, year by year. It is usually not a one-term investment. Thermosolar Hive has benefits that make this change easier: honey yield is significantly higher in Thermosolar Hive and the return of investment is a matter of few seasons, especially in western countries with high honey prices. There are other reasons which help beekeepers also financially – no varroa mortality means a lot of colonies saved etc. One more thing to mention: Thermosolar Hive is not only a hive but also a treatment device. You can have a few Thermosolar hives and treat more colonies with it. So if you want to treat very effectively and ecologically, you can do it even without a change of all your classical hives.
Can you explain how one can use a few Thermosolar Hives to treat an apiary of traditional Hives? Do you have to temporarily move all the frames from an existing hive to a “treatment hive” for each treatment?
Yes, Frederik, it is necessary to move the brood frames from classical hives to Thermosolar hives. Usually, only two consequent treatments (summer treatment) are necessary, so it is necessary to move frames two times per year. For example, one of the beekeepers who use Thermosolar hive for already 4 seasons, use only one Thermosolar Hive and 20 other classical hives. He treated all the brood from 20 classical hives in his one Thermosolar hive. However, this really needs some time for the treatment (more days). If you decide to use Thermosolar Hive as a hive and also as a treatment device, the best ratio is probably 3:1 (or 2:1, depending on the number of brood frames), so you can treat all the brood from Therosolar hive colony and three other colonies from classical hives at the same time. Of course, anything like this is more time consuming than having 4 or 40 Thermsolar hives which you can treat at the same time during the same day without any need of moving the frames.
I own 2 Flow hives (and am new to the hobby). I wonder if this technology would work with flow frames insides a thermosolar hive. And could one modify the thermosolar hive for Flow frames for harvesting?
Flow hive is based on Flow frames that can be used in almost any hive. Thermosolar Hive focuses on brood box where the brood is treated – Varroa mites are eliminated. Flow focus on the honey box – where the honey is stored. There is no problem with construction, it should fit without any problem. And there is probably (we have not tested yet, but it seems logical) another bonus: when the bees bring honey that granulate (harden) very fast and there is a problem of flow, our hive should help easily. Flow hive says that in this case, you have to take the frames out of the hive and warm them carefully. In our hive, you can just adjust the temperature in the honey box and hardened honey inside Flow frames should become softer, so it will be possible to extract it in the usual way.
Hello! Keeping bees in California, where the honey often gets warm enough in the hive to kill off certain enzymes, creates one way that California honey fails EU criteria...we still have mites. Does the thermosolar heating also affect enzyme loss in honey? I want to learn more about thermosolar.
Hello, the thermosolar heating does not affect the enzyme loss as the therapy is used after the honey chamber is removed. Only the brood chamber is being heated (brood with the mites) and not the honey. The honey will not go through the healing temperatures. The thermosolar therapy is a short procedure so it does not affect the honey which is left for the bees in the brood chamber.
The standard temperature in the brood chamber is 35°C and can reach 36°C before swarming. We use temperatures slightly above 40°C that are already killing the varroa mites but are safe for the bees and the brood.
Hello, I am new to beekeeping and looking for ways to improve the rate of survival. Do you have to put the outer cover back on as soon as the temperature hits a certain degree or can you allow it go over that temperature? I am asking because I work full time and will not be able to watch the bee hive closely throughout the day. How often do you need to do the treatment? I am definitely Interested in purchasing one when they are manufactured!
Hello Allison, thermotherapy is done only 2 or 4 times per year in the spring and in the summer. Early spring treatment is not so important as late summer treatment. So early spring treatment could be skipped, but late summer treatment is necessary (usually in August or September). Both spring and summer treatment consists of two therapies. During this two treatments, all Varroa mites are eliminated. After the first treatment (which kills 90-95% of mites) the second one should follow in 7-14 days to eliminate all the rest of mites. So you will need to make time for thermotherapy just in two sunny days per year to achieve the results. And it could be weekends :-).
Thermotherapy is done in this way: Beekeeper opens the outer cover in morning hours (around 9:00) and waits until both sensors in upper and lower part of the frame show temperatures over 40°C (104°F). At this moment, he/she starts to time 2.5 hours. When one of the sensors reaches 47-47,5°C (116.5-117.5°F) beekeeper puts the outer cover back on to stop temperatures at this level. The beekeeper should be present during the whole thermotherapy, in order to keep an eye on sensors. It is not laborious at all, but it will take a few hours. However, if the beekeepers use chemicals to suppress the mites, it is also time-consuming and it is usually done more often during the year.
Question: Rowena Alila
Is it possible that the wax foundation didn't melt if the temperature is 47°c?
Hello Rowena. It is not only possible but after thousands of thermotherapies, we are very sure about it. We have carried multiple tests with even higher temperatures and the wax and combs stay untouched. Wax melts at over 60°C and softens at around 50°C. Such temperatures are not reached during the thermotherapy. However, we recommend being cautious in case of heavily overloaded frames and we also recommend horizontal wiring of the frames, which protects the comb. Also, it is not recommended to have a virgin comb in the brood chamber. With these conditions kept, no harm can be done to combs during thermotherapy.
Question: Paul Eckerson
Ever consider a thermostatic heater to heat the entire hive to a specific temperature for a prescribed length of time?
Yes Paul, we have considered many other possibilities, but: Thermostatic heater has negative aspects – dependency on electricity (not often present on apiary), higher price, a more complicated device (chance of fault) and most importantly: it is not possible to treat in the way that is ideal for the colony. That is why we have two systems of heating (front windows and ceiling) in order to raise temperatures slowly and in the way which the bees are unable to ventilate. We also do not use any blowing of hot air that would have negative effects on the colony (drying). We have tested different methods but realized that this way of thermotherapy is safest for the colony and also most effective in Varroa elimination.
As a new beekeeper, I have done extensive research before entering into beekeeping. I realize that our bee populations are dying out and I am worried (as we all are) of bee extinction, the varroa mite is merely one element that the bees have to overcome, does warming have any other practical use other than reducing the mite?
Yes, it has, although Varroa mite elimination is the most important one. Warming in Thermosolar Hive speeds up the spring expansion of the bee colonies so colonies are strong enough to make use of early spring flow. Bees are also stronger during the whole season and have much higher flight activity (it is based on several factors, all of them connected with the warming of the hive). Warming in Thermosolar Hive also saves winter honey reserves and helps the bees with thermal support during severe frost (it is mostly sunny during such frosts). Hive also saves reserves throughout the season, because reserves are used to heat the brood and maintain ideal temperature of the brood. It is stated that colonies consume about 100 kg (220 pounds) of honey per season to maintain the desired temperature of the brood. Thermosolar Hive can save part of this huge amount of honey because it helps with long-term slight thermal support of the hive and brood. So the warming has many advantages and almost none disadvantages. There is only one clear disadvantage – to achieve such results, you can’t have the cheapest hive made of few boards. Much more sophisticated hive is necessary.
I am a beekeeper from Slovenia, and I would like to know if I would like to treat bees only with your method is that enough for their survival?
Roberto, if you speak about the biggest threat – Varroa mites then you can treat only with the Thermosolar Hive. Thermotherapy is far more effective than any other chemical treatment, no other treatment is needed.
I am not sure how all this works. Can you add this setup to the hives I already have or do I need to buy one of your hives? I live Washington state so if I could add this to my hies would be a great way to get the bees through the winter.
Gary, it is not possible to combine parts of Thermosolar Hive with normal hives. It would not work. Thermosolar Hive works only as a whole, construction of this hive is pretty sophisticated to ensure raising and preserving higher brood temperature for 2,5 hours. However, you can treat more colonies in the Thermosolar Hive, it is not only a hive but also a treatment device.
Question: Pete Summers
So I would only need 1 Thermosolar hive to treat all my colonies as I couldn't afford anything else, how would that work?
Pete, Thermosolar Hive is not only a hive but also a treatment device, you can treat more colonies with it. All you need is to take frames from the brood box of the classical hive, put them into Thermsolar Hive, do the thermotherapy and return the frames back to the original hive. It is usually done only two times per year – at the end of summer when you need to protect winter bees from varroa infestation. And it is extremely effective. However, you need to know that this is possible only with several colonies. If you have dozens of colonies, you will need more than one Thermosolar Hive or treat only part of your hives with one Thermosolar Hive and the rest with classical chemical treatment. It would be time-consuming to treat a high number of colonies with only one Thermosolar Hive.
Question: Dirk Jamin
Hello, my name is Dirk Jamin and I’m a beekeeper for 6 years now in Belgium. I must say that the info on your site is very interesting. I’m using the thermo technique for about 5 years now. I put the brood without the bees in a heated and controlled box. It is working well but there must be a more simple way, as I fond out on your site.
Is it also possible to get some more info about the methodology manual of anti-swarming breeding of drones? I’ve had the same findings about this matter, therefore my interest for your manual. Thanks forward.
Hello Dirk, Great to hear you´re using thermotherapy! Based on your description we have an idea about the device you might be using and we do understand how time-consuming that could be. We thought about a more simple way without the need for electricity.
The anti-swarming methodology is described on our blog, it is best to find more information there. We are as well interested in hearing more about your findings!