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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First try with OA vaporizer. I ran into a problem and would like some feedback. The hive I put the stick with OA in had some wax granules on the bottom board. These I think caused some odor as they burned under the metal part that has the OA in it.

I found about 30 bees outside after the treatment that seemed very lethargic and I was wondering if I kept the OA in too long or the wax caused the smoke I smelled during the operation and caused a problem.

Not sure if I'm explaining this thoroughly- please ask me to explain more if needed.
 

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Sr. Tanya,

You shouldn't be smelling anything when doing vaporization, because you should have a well-fitted respirator on! Please get one before your next treatment. You need at least a half-face model with ACID GAS canisters attached to it. (These are sometimes combined with "organic vapors", which is fine. Just not organic vapors by themselves.)

I use a rimless cookie sheet under my vaporizer (you could make something like this with a stiffish piece of aluminum.) That way no floor debris can get tangled up with the pan. The vaporizer must be absolutely level, even the slightest upward slant will bring it too close to the bottom of the frames. I shove a paper towel under the wand's stem, to force the head down towards the cookie sheet in order to make sure it is not near the frames. (nlikely since I also have a two" shim under the first box. I get down and peer in the opening before inserting the wand to make sure there are no obstructions of bees nor wax or both before each treatment.

As for time for the active burn there are usually two stages: the power on one and the still-sealed-in-but power-off portion, these will be described your wand's instructions. I use a Varrox which is 2 min 30 secs power on, followed by 2 min power off. Then the wand is removed and the hive sealed up for a further 10 minutes.

Most wands have pretty good safety margin. Lethargic bees may have been because it was still cool-ish and they have been caught outside, too long. My bees are generally completely indifferent, but I've read reports of some agitation.

I make sure to smoke (with my smoker) to the point of being able to hear a buzz before starting., That way I know the cluster has loosened some, so that the vapors can penetrate it.

I doubt that you seriously injured your bees with the OA. But you can seriously injure yourself if you work without a proper mask. Please don't take that risk, not even to kill varroa.

Nancy
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you Nancy for the heads up. I know I should have been wearing a mask. I even bought one for this use. The temps were in the low 50's. They look fine this morning and are very active.

I tried to time the vaporization of the OA twice before using it for the hive. They were not consistent. It did take about 2 minutes for it to begin and then both times the burning took different times. I think I used the longer time when I actually did it and it was too long. I'll do another timed one before using it again.

I have more hives to do and will follow your directions. Thanks again.

Sr. Tanya
 

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I tried to time the vaporization of the OA twice before using it for the hive. They were not consistent.
How big of a battery were you using? 2 sequential runs should be fairly consistent if the wand, OA supply (source and quantity), and temperature were about the same.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
12 volt, 320 cold crank. I put a charge on it after buying it and it looked like it was already charged. It's been awhile since I bought a battery and I always had to charge them. I was thinking maybe they were already fully charged. Now- maybe not...
 

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That battery should be big enough to run a OA vaporizer if it is mostly charged. How long did you let everything cool down between trail runs?
 

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Sr. Tanya,

Follow the burn-time instructions that came with your wand when you are just starting out. At 50 F, there is no need to do trial burns to see if they need to be longer due to low ambient temps. Each outdoor burn also emits a small cloud of potentially lung-damaging crystals going out into the atmosphere, so I am very stingy about doing them. In some atmospheric conditions, you can actually watch the little blob of crystals float away. I always feel bad because I am standing there with my mask on, just adding trouble to the shared breathing space of other critters.

With my Varrox, it's only 2 and half minutes with the battery connected, followed by 2 min to finish burning off the OA before I remove the wand. I don't like to find any OA debris left in my pan when I pull it out.

I used to use at 320 CCA (cold cranking amps) battery and it did fine for years, until it finally gave up the ghost after hundreds of cycles. I replaced it recently with a slightly beefier one (360 CCA), because my husband always seems to buy tougher batteries for our vehicles. The guys at NAPA were happy to sell it to me. I've only done one round of treatments with it, and the last ones in the yard were a bit squirrelly. At NAPA they told me it was already charged. My husband laughed at that when I complained about the weak burns on a brand new battery, and said it needed to be charged beforehand, no matter what they said. What they said is probably true for an automobile battery that is being recharged whenever the vehicle is running. That makes sense to me - it was charged enough to get things started pending the car recharging it immediately. But not enough when it was constantly being drained down from the very first use while I was treating. It's now fully recharged and lives in my dining room under the sideboard so it's having a cozy winter.

Please don't forget your mask next time - it's essential. I am constantly pestering people to try OA, but I live in dread that someone, moved by my enthusiasm for it, will be physically harmed by not wearing the mask. I don't want to be worried about you!

Nancy
 

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I tried to time the vaporization of the OA twice before using it for the hive. They were not consistent. It did take about 2 minutes for it to begin and then both times the burning took different times.
Are you cooling the wand in water between burns? I've been using a Varrox for years and a part of the routine is immersing the bowl in a container of water for several seconds after removing it from the hive. Clean and dry thoroughly with a towel and move on to the next hive. This keeps the bowl at a similar starting temperature for each burn and I find the timings and results to be very consistent. You may already be doing this, but thought I would mention it as something else to consider.
 

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Are you cooling the wand in water between burns? I've been using a Varrox for years and a part of the routine is immersing the bowl in a container of water for several seconds after removing it from the hive. Clean and dry thoroughly with a towel and move on to the next hive. This keeps the bowl at a similar starting temperature for each burn and I find the timings and results to be very consistent. You may already be doing this, but thought I would mention it as something else to consider.
covering all the bases....make sure you unhook the battery. i bought electronic kitchen timers with big buttons i can manipulate with gloves. usually run for 3 min. then unhook the battery while leaving it in hive with wet towel across entrance. After a minute or two i pull the wand leaving the towel in place which keeps the vapor in hive. I dunk it in the cold water and wack it to get anything off of it and start over. I do not dry it as the oav usually is done in 2.5 min. If you have a lot of hives you have to adjust timing as the battery voltage gets less.

just make sure you do not run it too long and put it in far enough that its not tilting up and contacting the frames. Keep a gallon of water on hand in case of wax fire you can kick the hive over and soak it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I appreciate your (Nancy) concern for my health and the environment. I will use the mask.

No information came with the wand. I looked online for all my information and thought to ask questions on beesource for the rest. I read that one should test the burn time before using it so that's why I did that.

I could use the battery from one of my tractors- right now they are in storage (under wrap). I'm still not sure how long I should keep the wand in the hive to complete the burn.

The hive I tried was a late swarm. However they built a wall of propolis across the middle of the entrance- for protection. I had to pry out a section to get the wand in- thus all the problems with stuff sticking to the wand, etc.

How am I going to know when the vapor is finished? I think I kept it on too long given that I added the 2 minutes for the vapor to start.

Sr. Tanya
 

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If you use a wet rag or a spray bottle you can partially cool a wand off enough so the new charge can be put in without any fumes coming off; Still too hot to touch with bare hand but you can reduce time between cycles by a minute easily. I used that method in doing multiple treatments of 10 or 12 hives before I got the band type external heater.
 

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Sr. Tanya,

No, some wands should not be dunked. What kind of wand are you using,? There are sure to be experienced users for every kind here on BS,. One of the reasons I chose the Varrox was its dunk-ability. But as Frank says, you can also cool and clean off a wand with a wettish rag, between hives

Your 320 CCA battery is likely just fine, just start the day with it well-charged. My own ones are always small lawn-mower sized models I can easily carry. I have a rope sling around mine so I can carry it like a purse.

Likely you have a two-stage process, too. A certain amount of time coming up to the sublimation temp which needs power-on, then another period with the power off (but still with wand in hive) to complete the burn so there is no residue left and all the material is gone. You can see this happening outside the hive. Perhaps, Larry (SNL) can describe what the tipping point for the start of the power-off portion looks like on any kind of wand. I know my Varrox doesn't start to smoke visibly until about 1:30- 1:45. So I have roughly another 45-60 secs after that point before I pull one of the leads of the battery to cut the power. It still has visible OA in the cup at that point, but it is rapidly changing from solid white crystals to a cloud of particles. At the end, in cool temps I have a funny sort of grayish skeletal material. (I also use hardware store OA, so some of that may be misc. chemicals present in what I am using.)

I am also generally using a full teaspoon of OA as my stacks are four-boxes high. This is a pretty big charge - far bigger than most people use.

Get your mask on, and try some tests.

You should have a high degree of similarity timing-wise from one test to another on the same day, with only a few runs between them. Be sure your clamps are on the battery posts securely, and in the same fashion each time. That's one of the reasons I only disconnect one lead when I want to stop the burn. I frequently double check the lead connection at the start of each burn, wriggling the clamps to make sure they are well-seated on the posts.

Before beginning a series of treatments, I usually go from hive to hive in the days before, cleaning out major propolis or comb messes, so that on treatment day I am not struggling with that, too. And as I said above, I use rimless cookie sheets on the floor during treatments (With the far end turned up about 3/8ths of an inch to act a sort of a plow to move debris out of the way as I slide it in.) The near end has a hole punched in them with a colored ribbon hanging out so I can remember to remove it at the end of the day. Otherwise I have to open everyone back up to find the ones I left behind. You make something like this with a sheet of aluminum flashing with the edges crimped-over all around for stiffness.

I know you'll get these bumps worked out, so you can do it in your sleep. And then your bees will be in fine shape.

Nancy
 

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@Meghues,

The 2" shim is my poor-girl's version of slatted rack under the hive. It provides the benefits of a slatted rack at a fraction of the cost. The benefits are increased hang-out space under the bottom of the frames (which my bees use, a lot) and displacement of the bottoms of the frames upwards and away from the drafty front entrance. I always have brood right down to the bottom edge of the frame. I didn't realize that was an issue until I started looking in hives without a shim or slatted board.

I initially got the idea from studying feral colonies, which often have an upwardly-displaced brood comb area. Makes sense to me that you take advantage of any room to keep that vital area protected, and with a more stable environment.

The other reason I prefer the open shim is that I am big on sticky-boarding and the slats interfere with a clean drop of debris down on to the board. In theory, space between the slats should line up with the seams between frames, but I am too vague and slatternly a beekeeper to guarantee that every time. Sometimes I run nine frames in a 10-frame box, or other off-pattern arrangements.

The only draw backs are the modest additional cost (about $5/hive) and about 1-in-20 colonies occasionally builds some comb down from the bottom edge of the frames in the lower box. I have only ever had brood in that comb once (I blame an overcrowded hive foe that), usually it's just practice or ladder combs. But I do have to check for it before OAVing. I just poke it off with a long stick if I'm going to treat, otherwise I let them keep things arranged as they like.

And having the 2" of space gives me peace of mind when OAVing. And it may be why me bees are pretty chill about the treatments: because I am not burning something hot right under the toes.

You could make a shim like this and try it and see how you like it. Mine are always on, so they are firmly propolized to the bottom board. I rarely, if ever separate them.

Nancy
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks Nancy (and all the others). The weather is going into the 60's in a day or two so will try OAing the other hives. I don't have the Varrox you mentioned but mine is a cheap model. It looked better on the computer. Yes, two stage process.

To stop the burn I'm presuming you disconnect the positive lead. Most of my hives are two hive boxes and one is 2 1/2. I'll have time to clean out the bottom boards and do have some aluminum and other metal sheets. I was wondering about the end of the sheet and you clarified that.
Sr. Tanya
 

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Sr. Tanya,

You can disconnect either lead, which opens the circuit, so the juice stops flowing.

My first vaporizer was an inexpensive one, too. I learned a lot from using it, and it did the job. It was not dunkable, but I did wipe it out with wet cloth between hives. I was uncertain, at first (and this was back when OAV was still a bootleg treatment) if OAV was going to work for me. It did, and did so very well. Then when the inexpensive wand bit the dust after a couple of years, I just replaced it with a Varrox. Varrox's are very nice tools but if money is tight, buy a cheaper wand and better mask. Put your money where it will do the most good.

Nancy
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you again, Nancy. You've been a great help. Hope all goes well this time.

Right now I have some black stuff baked on the cup part. I've been working on cleaning it up before the next use. If I ever need a second one I'll try the Varrox.

I'll use the wet cloth between hives.

Sr. Tanya
 
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