Under Construction!

New Honey-B-Healthy Formic Acid Fumigator!
(This new device will be used in our 2001 HBHFA Experiments.)

We believe this new device may be what the commercial beekeeper have been waiting for if liquid Formic Acid ever becomes approved by the EPA for use in honeybee colonies. Placing the device on colonies reduced down for pollination purposes will allow for an effective easy time to treat with only one or at the most two one day treatments. The 3/8" bee way on the sides of the device allows it to be left on for extended periods of time. Also, treating during times of nectar dearths after honey supers are removed will reduce the chance of any Formic Acid from entering the honey supers.
Note: We are continuously improving our treatments and devices by trial and error and will be updating this website periodically.

The view to the left is a top view and the view to the right is a bottom view of our new HBHFA fumigator.
(June 1, 2001)
The device is made from 3/4" pine and is 1 1/4" wide with a 3/8" bee way on both sides of the device. There is a 1/4" bee way on the top and bottom of the inner frame.



Views of Opened Fumigator!

The view to the left shows the three layers of 1/8" Durethene mesh (bottom), absorbent bed pad (center), and aluminum flashing (top). The view to the right is a close-up view of the HBHFA fumigator.
In our 2000 experiments using a similar device which reduced queen losses using Formic Acid from 25% to 1.6% in a 123 colony trial. We have practically eliminated queen losses in Formic Aid treatments by adding Honey-B-Healthy. HBH contains some of the same natural pheromones of the honey bee which allows the bees to recognize their queen during the HBHFA treatment. Our chemist, Attila Kovacs has currently collected over 200 pages of data on the action of the oils and pheromones on the Formic Acid and the bees and will be publicizing an article in the ABJ soon.
(June 1, 2001)

Close-up View of Opened Fumigator!

The view to the left shows the Durehtene mesh. And the view to the right shows the mesh, pad, top and reducer used at the entrance during HBHFA treatments. The reducer has a 3/8"x3 1/2" opening in the center.



- The Durethene mesh can be purchased at ADPI Enterprises, Inc.

- The bed pad can be purchased at medical supply houses, Walmart, K-Mart, etc. This new device allows for ease of replacement of the pad. The pad is extremely absorbent and will hold a lot of liquid which gives an even steady evaporation of the mix over the whole brood area in lees than 24 hours. With a 90%+ kill of all mites on the bees and in the cells with no harm to the bees, larva or queen..

- The aluminum flashing, pine lumber, nails, glue can be purchased at building supply companies such as Lowes, 84 Lumber, etc.

Note: We have also used aluminum screen in place of the Durethene. We did tests and found the 40% - 45% Formic mix had no noticeable effect on the aluminum doing a weight test of aluminum suspended in our Formic mix for three days. We prefer and suggest the use of the Durethene mesh from ADPI.

Efficacy Increased & NO BALLED QUEENS!
Adding HBH to our Formic Mix has practically eliminated queen losses.

We have increased the efficacy of formic acid with our improved HBHFA fumigator and have reduced queen losses to practically 0%. We believe this new method of applying FA is effective for the following reasons: There is an air space just above the upper brood chamber; heat from the brood rises into this enclosed space with a controlled 90F temperature. This space covers the entire brood area. The FA is much heavier than air so it has a tendency to sink, not rise. This is probably why so many investigators had variable results when placing small pads of FA on the bottom board and on top of the brood supers with no controlled heat or evaporation area and open entrance. Having a reduced entrance with only two 3/8" bee ways on the sides of the fumigator allows the formic HBH mix to penetrate all the brood cells killing 90%+ of the mites in most colonies in less than 24 hours. Thus, putting the colonies too far below injury level for several months. The upper plastic or aluminum sheet prevents the warm air from being lost to upper supers. (We kept supers on during treatments in some colonies in order to be able to test for FA in the honey above the fumigator). Thus, the heat rises from the brood, activates the FA in the absorbent pad causing evaporation. The bees respond with a roar of fanning, and the air circulates through the brood frames and eventually exits the small entrance opening. The circulated air is warm (90F); the FA penetrates capped cells, killing mites inside, but not the brood. Within 24 hrs, virtually all FA is gone and the fumigator can be removed. We saw in all colonies, including 12 previously treated with Apistan, that mite drop occurred at a high daily rate for 13 days. Some colonies produced counts exceeding 3,000 mites on a single board in 13 days, This number of 13 days (14 days for drones) corresponds to the number of days required for one cycle of capped brood to complete development and exit cells. As bees exit the cells, dead mites fall between the frames, through the screened bottom, and onto the detector board below.

By using a lower concentration of formic acid, 40 & 45% with the HBH added, we reduced the chance for injury to beekeepers and bees; however, frequent exposure to bare skin will cause the skin to come off. Any researchers attempting to repeat this experiment should wear rubber gloves; do not inhale fumes (formic acid can be harmful to the liver). We always made up the solution in an open, outside area or in a fume hood, and we used a hydrometer to obtain exactly 50% (sp. grav. = 1. 110) and 45% (sp. grav. = 1.0990). We used a hydrometer because we found considerable variation in strength of formic acid in containers we purchased; some were off as much as 30%. This may be one reason that published reports give variable results for the use of formic acid. Beekeepers must also be aware that formic acid obtained from some commercial sources may contain heavy metal contaminants??these may be harmful to the bees, to humans or to the environment. Always inquire about the possibility of heavy metal contaminants.

I found the best time to place the fumigator on colonies is towards evening, on the upper brood chamber (s), for 24 hrs during warm to mild weather (19-30C; 65?86F.)??We reduced the entrance to 3.5" The 10% HBH must be added to the formic at application [mixed fresh each time] poured onto the absorbent material and placed on top of the brood chamber (s), with the absorbent material down.The amount of formic acid mix used depends on the number and depth of the brood chambers; eg., we use 2.8 ozs (85ml) for a single deep chamber and for two Illinois chambers [3.2 ozs or 95ml], and slightly more for a deep + Illinois [3.6 ozs or 110ml], etc. The fumigator is placed on the hive, on the upper brood chamber, for 24 hrs or less during warm to mild weather (19-30°C; 65-86°F). We reduce the entrance to 3.5" [ 8.9 cm] at the center. The bees quickly begin fanning the air through the brood nest and out of the small entrance; you can smell the formic acid coming out of the center entrance. [We manage the 82 WVU colonies in two intermediate depth brood chambers per hive, thus we used 85cc each of the 45% formic with 10% HBH added bringing the formic down to 40.5%. Redding, CT and Cumberland, MD trial used 50% formic with 10% HBH added bringing the formic down to 45%]. Before using this system tape over all holes, etc., and use a sold bottom board. We measured temperatures: they were about 94F just below the fumigator center, and the air exiting the entrance was nearly always 90F (32.2C). We got excellent mite kill on most hives, including mites inside sealed brood cells and because of the HBH, we saw very little interruption of queen performance, and no balled queens in the WVU trial. [In early August, 2000 we conducted similar trials with formic acid only (no HBH), at the same concentration and amount, and lost 25% of our queens.] The Redding, CT and Cumberland, MD trial resulted in two queen losses out of a 41-colony trial, which is a 4.3% loss, which may have been to failing queens. The WVU trial of 82 colonies resulted in a 0% loss of queens. This difference may be due to the difference of 45% and 40.5% formic used in the two trials.

The summer of 2002 we began to spray exposed bees on and between exposed brood supers along with the entrance with HBH sugar water spray (4 tsp. Per quart). This along with adding HBH to the 50% formic eliminated queen losses. If you decide to only spray the bees with HBH and not add it to the formic acid reduce the final HBH/formic mix by 10%.

Formic Acid Treatments. [Warning: There are no currently approved formulations for mixing liquid formic acid for treatment of hive; this is something that beekeepers will have to request their states to approve. Please contact your state apiarist for information on legal methods, including formic acid, for controlling mites.] If parts (1-3) are used in our IPM during the season, there may never be a reason to use formic acid, Apistan, Check-Mite or other miticides. We used an absorbent pad [Kendall undergarment, available from hospital supply stores or large drugstores] at the top of the hive, protected from the bees by a plastic screen on the underside, a heavy plastic or aluminum sheet on the upper surface [a sandwich of three layers, with the same x-y dimensions as a brood chamber] and spaced 3/4"[using wood molding] above the top bars of the upper brood chamber.

"The hobby of beekeeping has now become the science of beekeeping."

Note: We use a queen excluder to keep the queen and brood in selected chambers.
When mixing HBFA we use a graduated cylinder. (Ex. Add 90ml 50% formic then add 10ml HBH for a 10% HBH mix. Or add 10% HBH to 50% formic mix.)