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Innovative heat treatment device for protection of honeybees against Varroa mites

Country of Origin: Austria
Reference Number: TOAT20190217001
Publication Date: 17 February 2019

Summary

An Austrian SME offers a patented machine for effectively controlling the Varroa mite infestation in honeybee colonies by means of heat treatment (hyperthermia). It enables a safe and chemical free treatment which can be applied any time of the year to kill the parasite in the bee brood, to increase honey yields, and to avoid colony losses. The company seeks commercial agreement with technical assistance, license agreement, and research cooperation project partners in the beekeeping sector.

Description

An Austrian engineering SME offers an innovative beekeeping product based on heat treatment (hyperthermia) to combat the Varroa mites in bee colonies. The Varroa mite is a parasite transmitting honeybee diseases and causing severe damages to colonies and losses to apiaries. It has a significant economic impact on the beekeeping industry, causing colony losses of over 25% in Central European countries. The agricultural sector is also adversely affected by losses, as most plants and agricultural crops are dependent on honeybees for pollination. 

This device for hyperthermia is since 2010 in the market, and its principle of use is based on selectively targeting the reproducing Varroa mites in the capped bee brood. Heat treatment kills these mites by means of high temperature, and at the same time, the bee brood remains safe as it has a higher tolerance to heat than the Varroa mite. This is a completely different approach for the Varroa treatment, moving away from the traditional but ineffective use of objectionable chemicals inside the hives.

The machine automatically controls temperature and humidity in an exact way. Heat treatment can be safely and easily performed any time of the year, especially before the honey harvest, to control the Varroa. Moreover, the producer has developed a yearly working plan for beekeepers which clearly presents effective ways to increase honey yields and securing healthy honeybee colonies. This annual plan works with small and large apiaries.

The device is both rented and sold in Austria and various European countries (e.g., DE, IT, BE, CH, CZ, FR, SK), and is available in three sizes, with the option to customize for special frame sizes.

The Austrian SME is looking for partners for wider commercialization of the product through a commercial agreement with technical assistance. The patented technology can be made available for licensing and further customization. The company is also looking for project partners interested in capacity building, as well as on further implementation of the technology for integrated pest management and organic beekeeping. Ideal partners would be beekeeping technology providers, wholesalers, beekeeping organizations, and organizations active in the agri-food sector specializing in bee´s protection and health. Other interesting partners are veterinary authorities and veterinary education and training organizations, as well as research organizations interested to use hyperthermia.

Advantages and Innovations

Warmer winters and the resulting extended periods of brood rearing activities of the honey bees make it difficult to treat against the Varroa mite with conventional chemicals and organic acids (Formic and Oxalic acid). Those can only be applied at certain times and under very specific weather conditions. This makes it challenging for the beekeepers to find a matching timing that also avoids harming the bees, and leaving residues in the hive products. 

Heat treatment stands out because of its clear advantages as being chemical free, and as such, flexible in the application. Beekeepers benefit from a unique method and product to safely and effectively heat treat against the Varroa mite any time of the year, without any harm to the colonies and no objectionable chemical residues in the hive.

This patented heat treatment device has a compact and mobile design, incorporating high precision sensors, and an automatic control unit, making the treatment user-friendly and effortless. It is portable, can be moved by one person and transported in normal size cars. It operates with electricity, and also in the field with a small power generator (800 Watt). The machine can hold up to 20 brood frames in a treatment cycle of about two hours. It accommodates most common frame sizes, so that beekeepers using different hive formats can share the machine.

Renown German and Belgian bee research institutes´ results confirm that this is a high-quality, reliable product for the effective treatment of the Varroa mite in the bee brood, which is key to control the Varroa infestation and avoid colony damages. The product offer is complemented with extensive information in various languages, videos and a practical manual on heat treatment, especially developed for the beekeepers. It is also key component of an international ERASMUS+ funded project.

Stage Of Development

Already on the market

Stage Of Development Comment

Since 2010 the product is successfully on the market.

Requested partner

1. Commercial agreement with technical assistance
The company is looking for partners who would be interested in further commercialization of the product. It is offering the technology through a commercial agreement along with training, support and technical assistance. The device can be further adapted to meet other framing requirements and sold or rented by the partner to prospective clients or members. Possible partners could be beekeeping associations, technology providers of solutions for the beekeeping industry and organizations looking for an effective and all year round treatment against the Varroa mite.

2. License agreement
The company is also looking for partners interested in licensing the technology as value-added reseller (VAR). Technical assistance, training and support can also be provided to support the licensee as a part of the licensing agreement. Interesting partners would be beekeeping technology providers and beekeeping organizations looking for an effective and all year round treatment against the Varroa mite.

3. Research cooperation agreement
The company is looking for research partners in the field of bee health and sustainable beekeeping practices for new educational, capacity building on integrated pest management projects.

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