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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have recently applied for a patent on a new method of protecting beehives from SHB. It uses a robber screen with powered electrodes around the outer edges. A protective cover provides a 1/8 inch gap over the electrodes, this keeps bees and people from touching the electrodes, but small hive beetles have easy access to them. The actual power used is about 1/10th that required to trip a GFI circuit breaker, so there is minimal risk to humans who might accidentally get shocked.

A small hive beetle is drawn to the robber screen by the hive odors. It then tries to find access to the hive and starts walking around on the screen. When it reaches the edge of the screen, it crosses onto the electrodes and drops to the ground, or alternatively into a collection box in under the robber screen from which it cannot escape. The goal is to try to reduce the number of SHB entering a hive by at least 90%.

The patent application also includes placing vertical electrifiers within a beehive, so that beetles crossing over them fall to the bottom of the hive. The bee can then easily remove them as a part of normal hygiene. Tentatively, the best place for this would be in the inner cover; the hive beetles run into what they think is a crack and WHAM! they are shocked to find that this is not a normal crack. They then fall to the bottom. The only maintenance would be to occasionally open the top cover and slide a knife through the gap to remove any propolis, the inner cover itself would not need to be removed.

This is the theory. I am not a beekeeper, I am a retired electronics and mechanical design engineer with over 40 years of professional industrial design experience, with a B.S. in physics from UCLA. I know a beekeeper who asked if I could figure out some kind of solution to the SHB problem. This is the result of those efforts.

I live near Dallas, Texas. Hive beetles do not seem to be a serious problem in this area. In the Dallas area, we get reasonably cold during the winter and have hot, dry summers, and a black soil they do not seem to like. They are also currently dormant where my friend lives, which is near Houston, Texas, but he has serious SHB problems in late Summer.

I have not tested this, because I have just finished and submitted the patent application and the beetles are dormant here. Now that the patent work is finished and I can talk freely about what I want to do; I need help in figuring out if and how to proceed.

A question: Does anyone on this list and reading it near the time of posting live in an area where the SHB are currently active that would be willing to work with me in testing some equipment? It would be great to test some prototypes before summer hits.

I am also interested in feedback. I have not even priced what it would cost, although the following is a rough estimate. The power supply, which is solar/battery operated, could run perhaps $75 and should be able to electrify at least half a dozen hives placed near each other, perhaps more. This price could drop if there is enough demand to get high volume production. The electrodes, wires, and connectors should be about $10 apiece for those who want to build their own robber screen; hopefully less than $30 if the robber screen is sold already assembled. That would be perhaps about $25 a hive for six hives placed near each other and where a person build his own robber screen. The electrodes for electrifying an inner cover would be a little less than this, so I think it would be a little over $30 to use both an electrified robber screen and an electrified inner cover for a person doing the work himself. The gap in the inner cover would run the entire length of the hive body parallel with the frames. In theory, this would keep most of the SHB out of the hive and then aggressively treat those that do get in it.

I have several other projects I am working on, including some patents for a non-chemical tawny crazy ant treatment, and want to find out if there is enough interest in this to pursue the proposed SHB treatment or if I should go on to something else.

Tim Stout, Greenville, TX
 

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Very interesting. What do you estimate the longevity of these devices to be?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Electronics lasts a long time. I would expect the control circuitry to last over a decade.

The electrodes are a different issue. The current expected approach is to use a printed circuit board with copper traces coated with Immersion Tin. Tin slowly oxides, but tin oxide is still a conductor, as contrasted with aluminum oxide, which is an insulator. I would expect the electrodes to last a number of years. Tin was chosen for coating cans for food storage, thus "tin cans," because it corrodes much, much slower than iron or steel.

If standard hardware cloth is used for the screen, that should also last several years.

Tim Stout
 

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See my response to your other post.

I have a fondness for stainless steel hardware cloth. Not that it is absolutely necessary, and you rarely see it in hives, but it is lovely to look at and practically indestructible ... I have used it in plasma physics. If conventional screen does not work, stainless is an option.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I would much prefer stainless myself; for those wanting to know where to get it, it is available from TWP Inc. in Berkeley, CA. In round numbers, though, it is about $10 a square foot, which is much more expensive than local hardware store cloth. I am striving to keep costs as low as possible. I am assuming the demand curve is very steep: a 10% increase in cost could reduce the number of people interested by 20% or more. The big issue is trading off longevity versus initial cost. I could use thick gold plated electrodes that would not corrode. They would be pretty to look at if they were not hidden from sight. However, few beekeepers could afford to use them. The correct balance between beauty, longevity, and cost is sometimes difficult to determine properly.
 

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Indeed. In my head I'm picturing our electrostatic air filters, where the high voltage wire is some high-performance wire such as stainless, and the vanes on either side are more common metal. The high voltage wires are thin, and not much is required.

Once the breadboard and brassboard designs are proven out, the secret to success is usually coming up with an affordable and producible design that also can survive in the field.

I'd guess most people here with conventional Langstroth hives use what is called a "screened bottom board." The screen is sized to allow SHB and small mites to drop through, but bees can't. The material is usually plain old 8-wire-per-inch hardware cloth, and to my knowledge it holds up fine, so I don't expect you will have much problem.
 
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