I took some time to investigate the product and its development with the designer, Janos Fenyosy. I became aware, after a few telephone conversations, that this new vaporiser had been developed over many years, a great deal of care and research had gone into it, as Janos wanted to get his product just right.
Jano ses involvement in beekeeping started at a very young age, he was encouraged by his father and a neighbour who also kept bees, to assist them in the day to day running of their colonies. Janos soon became very fond of bees and always looked forward to his time he spent with them. During his time he spent working with these amazing creatures, a new pest had invaded our colonies, Varroa! Working with the bees Janos could see the struggle the bees were having with this new parasite, and had to do something to help them. Experimentation began to see what would work against them. First He turned to the traditional method, the chemicals. He had been treating the bees with amitraz for years, but didn’t like the fact that the poison would build up and the mites could become resistant. It made him think, especially when all his father’s colonies perished in one winter. He wanted to use a more natural, organic solution, so as not to harm the bees or the honey – and through that, ourselves. He turned his attention to natural acids, he read about oxalic acid sublimation and was immediately attracted.
As a hobby beekeeper, he didn’t want to invest a lot of money, so bought a cheaper device. It was a heat gun vaporizer. He was disappointed to find that his colonies were failing and weakened despite the treatment, after following the manufacturer’s instructions, because of this he had to turn to Amitraz again and it seemed that the oxalic acid treatment was not working. However, he had heard, time and time again from trusted beekeepers that they were using oxalic acid sublimation for years and it works for them against the mites. he felt he must be doing something wrong!
He started to look into the subject more and more and his research led him to the conclusion that temperature and controlled levels of oxalic acid play a very important role in vaporizing. If the temperature of the heated chamber is too high, the oxalic acid is converted to formic acid, and at even higher temperatures it decomposes to carbon dioxide. So I set about trying out several types of oxalic acid vaporizers currently on the market. The first problem encountered was overheating: the heated chamber would reach temperatures up to 15-30°C above the set point. What also surprised him was that the vast majority of units sold worldwide are mains-powered appliances. Although he had his hives in his backyard and within easy reach of an extension cord, He hadn’t dared to think how cumbersome sublimation would be in the middle of a forest. That’s when his engineering experience came into play, he had a hunch that it could be technically feasible to do it with a cordless battery, and that overheating could be eliminated. Although there are a couple of battery powered machines, they are very expensive and I didn’t like the way they worked, even untested.
He set out along this course: to develop an oxalic acid device that controls the temperature of the heated chamber much more accurately and runs on battery power. Experimenting took a long time with its ups and downs but In the end, by designing the heating of the chamber, the insulation and the temperature control, He managed to achieve a combination where the necessary heat could be produced efficiently, with so little loss that the necessary energy could be provided by a cordless battery. The control of the heating is a key part of this, as not only is there no overheating – and therefore more reliable operation – but the energy waste associated with overheating had been eliminated. What is also interesting here is that although many vaporizers have digital, PID temperature controllers, they do not make full use of the PID function, but simply act as thermostats, only set to switch on and off at the given temperature. But the point of the PID function is to set the precision with which the temperature is controlled, and the overshoot. The other major difference that he realised during the development is that he had abandoned the often used slab heating for the chamber and instead heated the bottom of the chamber. The cold oxalic acid settles on the bottom of the boiler during the treatment and starts to cool it, if he put the heating there, the unit can reheat faster and more flexibly and the insulation not only helps to reduce heat loss, it also ensures reliable operation even in extreme weather, and in particular of windy weather.
However, other challenges for the vaporizer have also been encountered: the need to ensure that the outlet pipe does not clog so often; that it does not have to be held but stays on its own on the side of the hive during treatment; and that the dosing of oxalic acid is precise and simple. In short, an easy-to-use machine would be needed in all respects. once again he had to rely on his engineering experience: having been involved in manufacturing and product development for many years, He already knew how to solve problems of this kind. But even so, it was a difficult journey to meet these needs point by point.
The first machine was a 12 volt version, 20 amps, 240 watts. He had a beekeeper friend help him test it, and he was able to treat 240 colonies with 2 gram doses on an 80 amp working battery without running out of power. Although he had considered an 18-volt version, He thought there would not be much demand for it, so he postponed its introduction at the beginning. But he wrong.
As word of the device spread, more and more people asked if he could come up with such a version. So, with some modifications, an 18-volt version was born, which can be powered by Dewalt Parkside, Einhell, Metabo, Makita, Milwaukee, Bosch batteries. Whatever brand of battery socket the beekeeper asks for, that’s the socket he fits the vaporizer. The 18 volt unit is also 240 watts and draws 13 amps. It takes about ~1 amp hour to heat up, and with 1 amp hour capacity, ~10 doses of 2 gram treatments can be made. As an example, once the device is heated, a charged 4 amp Parkside battery can treat 42 colonies with 2 gram doses at 20 Celsius degrees outside temperature. It was important not to waste time when dosing the oxalic acid, so I developed a compact dispenser unit with a push button that can be easily adjusted to the amount of oxalic acid to be dosed by turning the push button up to 1-4 grams, which can be read immediately from the indicator on the dispenser unit.