Are you struggling to get that (varroa) mite count down? Then, it’s time you get an oxalic acid vaporizer.
Nature is quite adept at solving natural problems. After compounding the mite problem with synthetic miticides, it is no surprise that we are back to nature.
Oxalic acid is a compound that naturally occurs in vegetables such as spinach and radish. Commercially, it acts as a wood-bleaching agent. Now, the E.P.A. has authorized its use as an effective miticide. We also find trace amounts in honey; hence, it is safe to use in a hive.
Beekeepers all over the country are using oxalic acid to save their colonies from the Varroa mite.
Before we get to your options, let’s deal with the basics.
What is an Oxalic Acid Vaporizer?
An oxalic acid vaporizer is a tool used to turn oxalic acid crystals into vapor. This vapor then quickly condenses to form tiny fine crystals that coat the interior surfaces of the hive, as well as cover the bees.
The bees help with the vapor dispersion by fanning it away, allowing it to spread throughout the colony.
When the mites come in contact with these crystals, they die. The bees are unharmed by this process, while the mortality rate of the mites is over 90%.
It only works on phoretic mites, those hitching a ride on adult bees inside the hive and walking around on the surface. Those enclosed in capped cells remain unscathed.
Most beekeepers will treat their hives when the colony has little to no brood. Alternatively, they have to repeat the treatments weekly for at least three weeks to expose emerging mites to the acid.
What Should You Look for When Buying a Vaporizer?
When checking reviews online, I’ve noticed that people who give the lowest rating have a complaint about the product either falling apart or breaking down when it’s still new. It is not a disposable product. It shouldn’t behave like one.
Most vaporizers are attached to a battery. Once the oxalic acid has vaporized, the beekeeper turns off the vaporizer by disconnecting the clips from the car battery. Once it has cooled further, it is removed from the hive, and then the process is repeated.
The ability to heat oxalic acid quickly but efficiently will save you time as a beekeeper.
Your oxalic acid vaporizer will be powered by either a car battery or a lawnmower battery. These are not the heaviest objects, but they can be cumbersome if you have to keep moving them.
If your cord is long enough, you can treat several hives without moving the battery, which means less work for you.
Very few oxalic acid vaporizers have a temperature gauge or regulator. Even though the absence of one isn’t a deal-breaker, it is a great asset.
If the vaporizer gets too hot too fast, it can cause the oxalic acid to degrade rather than fully sublimate. That reduces the effectiveness of the vaporization of oxalic acid.
4 Best Oxalic Acid Vaporizers for Beekeepers
Best Commercial Oxalic Acid Vaporizer
- 20V Battery powered oxalic acid vaporizer, compatible with XR 20V or FlexVolt 20/60V battery (Not Included)
- Inbuilt deep discharge protection circuit, switches off before it damages the battery
- Stainless steel construction - Commercial Grade and displays temperature and battery voltage in real-time
- Accurate, dynamic solid-state relay PID temperature control, i.e., no overheating
- Battery and charger NOT Included
Built by commercial grade construction, this oxalic acid vaporizer will serve you and your hive for years. It’s safe and simple to use.
Oxalic acid sublimation takes about 30 seconds, after which you’re ready to treat your hive.
Best Hobbyist Oxalic Acid Vaporizer
- 【High quality material】 Aluminum Heating Plate, not easy to be corroded and has good thermal conductivity; Wooden Polished Handle, non-slip insulation, and comfortable to grip; Copper Core Wire, with a thickened insulation layer, is efficient and safe to conduct electricity. Surface coating to extend its service life.
This vaporizer made it to the top of our list. The vaporizer is very efficient and heats up quickly. It only takes about 2-3 minutes to heat up and has good thermal conductivity.
This one is built for longevity. The high-grade aluminum will keep vaporizing oxalic acid for years to come. The wires are well-insulated and attached in such a way that the user need not worry about the insulation breaking off, exposing the wires beneath.
Budget-Friendly Oxalic Acid Vaporizer
This one would definitely clear a hive from mites without denting your pockets.
This budget-friendly option boasts of durability. Made of durable stainless steel, it has a layer of thick insulation that would resist heat and water.
With a wooden handle, this vaporizer is one that is easy to use. Both beginners and professional beekeepers would definitely get a good grip on using this item.
It seems to be a family affair, but I assure you, this is an objective choice.
The quality of the vaporizer itself is very high, using the same grade aluminum used to make the heavy-duty model.
This acid vaporizer has received glowing reviews online. Despite being a bit more pricey than others, many were in awe of its easy-to-use features, which were well worth the price.
How to Use an Oxalic Acid Vaporizer to Treat Honeybee Colonies?
We found this fantastic video by St. Isidore’s farm. Check it out!
By the way – they use this Oxalic Acid for the vaporization.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is oxalic acid used for?
Oxalic acid is useful to treat varroa mites but also to clean equipment. Its strong acidic properties make it an effective cleaner for removing rust, stains, and mineral deposits from various surfaces.
By the way, it is also used in the textile industry for dyeing and printing fabrics.
At what temperature does oxalic acid vaporize?
Oxalic acid will turn into vapor at around 310-320° F. Beyond 360-380°; however, it will start to decompose into carbon monoxide and formic acid.
Is oxalic acid harmful to humans?
Oxalic acid can be harmful to humans if ingested or inhaled in large amounts. It can cause irritation and burning sensations in the mouth, throat, and stomach. In severe cases, it can lead to kidney damage and other health problems.
However, small amounts of oxalic acid are found in many foods (e.g., leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, cocoa, nuts, and seeds) and are generally considered safe.
What is the best time to use oxalic acid to treat bee hives?
When your honey bee hive has no or very little sealed brood, then it is the best time to treat your hives with oxalic acid.
The application of oxalic acid on hives with a capped brood would have no effect. The benefits of oxalic acid would not redound to capped broods as the acid would not be able to penetrate them. Mites in these capped broods would survive.
What are other ways of applying oxalic acid to a hive?
Besides using an oxalic acid vaporizer, there are other ways of applying mite treatment to your hives.
The most common methods that most of our beekeeping friends resort to are the Oxalic Acid Dribble Method and the Spraying Package Method (with an oxalic acid vaporizer).
If you haven’t already tried it, using a vaporizer is a safe and effective way to combat varroa mites in your bee hive.
As with other items we use in our hives, read the safety equipment manual. Please take the time to read through them and understand how the vaporizer works. It would definitely help you get a positive experience and save your bees.
When was the last time you did your bees a favor? Well, here’s your chance.