Wednesday, September 14, 2016


I was concerned that treating my Purdue Ankle Biter breeder queen hive with MAQS could potentially harm the queen. Published data indicates Oxalic acid vapor does not have the same risk.  Beekeeper Jon pointed out the new Kelly vaporizer to me recently.  It has a few features making more user friendly.  My new toy (special tool) arrived on Monday, but today was the first time I could give it a try.

The vaporizer comes with about a 10 foot electrical cord and runs on 12v from a car battery.  I would have preferred a 20 foot cord so I could do more hives prior to re-positioning the vehicle housing the battery.  Adding the extra length will be a quick winter project.

The vaporizer has a built in timer; so no need for a stop watch.  Depressing the start switch starts the 2 1/2 minute heating cycle which vaporizes the powdered oxalic acid.  During the heat cycle a red LED flashes rapidly.  Unfortunately the LED is hard to see in the bright sun.  The vaporizer then automatically switches off.  The red LED then flashes at a slow rate during the cool down period of about 2 minutes.  The vaporizer can be removed after the cool down is complete, however, the hive is kept sealed for another 10 minutes.

The fact that the light was not readily visible bugged me.  So last night I took the cover off the vaporizer handle.  I could see the red LED was bent over.  After straightening the LED back to vertical I carefully re-installed the cover on the handle.  The LED now projects above the handle surface.  Today I used the vaporizer in bright sunlight.  It was now readily visible while blinking. 
              The red LED (right to the left of the switch) now projects above the handle surface.

I did not time myself, but I think I treated 5 hives in about an hour.  Another tool in the fight against varroa.



Gerard Schubert said...

I read about that vaporizer. Sounds like a great tool to borrow!

Ed Moyers said...

How was the stability of the vaporizer. Did you have any concerns with it tipping (side to side) as you put in the hive, and spilling the oxalic acid?

Fred Ransome said...

The heated head (pan) on the vaporizer has about 1/4 inch high lip around the outside diameter which is about 2 1/2 inch diameter. The oxalic acid is a powder. The oxalic powder in the pan is about 1/8 inch deep; well below the lip. The gap into the hive is only 3/4 inch high. The vaporizer handle is about 1/2 inch thick and 1 1/2 inch wide. When inserted into the hive entrance it can tilt slightly, but you need to keep it level to get it thru the entrance. The 2 1/2 inch pan diameter acts as a level arm that also prevents tilting. The only time I lost any of the oxalic powder was when I bumped the vaporizer while moving it from the cart to the hive. Very little of the powder is used to treat a hive. If you occasionally spill some it is no great concern. Most people are using wood bleach as their source of the powder and it costs about 5 cents per dose. If you used certified oxalic acid powder from a bee supply it may be a little more. I treated about 30 hives and only spilled some once.

Fred Ransome said...

I've seen a homemade vaporizer on You-tube that could easily be a do-it-yourself project. It was constructed using a handheld propane torch. The torch flame was directed at a 6 inch section of 1 inch steel pipe. The pipe has a permanently attached plug on the bottom. On the top the plug is removable so that the oxalic powder can be dropped inside. A small 1/4 pipe comes off the side of the 1 inch pipe and gets inserted into the hive. Simple and cheap if you are a do-it-yourself type of person. It looks like a 1-2 hour project. I plan on making one this winter.

Ed Moyers said...

Thanks, Fred!

Anonymous said...

Some quality issues like the bent led. But the built in timer and price seems a good option for the hobby beekeeper