Our story through the eyes of inventor Roman Linhart:
“The whole story started when I sometimes in the lunch breaks used to go to buy snacks in a small shop near my school. Above the stairs into the store there are several vents leading directly beneath the tin roof. Bees would fly from the vents. Seeing the bees, I felt sorry for them. I thought Varroa must certainly soon kill them, because now no wild bees survive more than two years without chemical treatment that kills the mites. Nonetheless, first, second, and third season passed and the bees would still fly from the gaps. After so many years of observation, I could not resist asking the lady selling in the shop how long had it been that those bees had lived there. She replied that they had always been there. So I wondered how long she remembers. Her answer astonished me:
“When my husband and I bought it here 17 years ago the bees had already been there. And they are still there. How about hot chocolate?”
Chocolate I had and from that moment on, I was obsessed with the idea that those are a special kind of varroa-resistent bees, which themselves somehow kill the mites. I used to go below the gap from which the bees would fly, brushing the stairs of the shop, looking for parts of debris from the hive. There was no trace of Varroa mite.
One day the bees swarmed and I managed to catch a swarm. I was thrilled that I would have a swarm from a bee colony, which at least for 17 years no one had treated for varroa and the bees survived! I was thrilled that I would breed varroa-resistent mother bees. I performed fumigation (a conventional chemical treatment) to check the level of mite infestation. Not a single mite fell out. I was excited.
I settled the swarm into a hive and the bees began to flourish. The results of cleaning instinct tests were normal. And when I put in a cage the bees from this miraculous swarm and house bees diseased with mites from other colonies, I could not observe that my new bees would somehow kill the mites or clean their companions. I also noticed that some of my new swarm bees got attacked by mites. And to my dismay, in early summer the rate of infestation of my miraculous colony was the same as any other. My dream of varroa-tolerant bees vanished once for all…
My dream faded but the mystery of the unexplained bee health under the tin roof did not. Some mysterious factor had to operate there, or a complex of factors, which damaged the varroa mites. But what could it be?
One hot summer day, I put together a number of facts, which were just waiting to be put together to solve the mystery of the bees in the shop. The classroom where I was testing my students was unbearably hot. In fact it was under the roof. Just then the idea dawned on me. Indeed, if inside of our insulated classroom the temperature reached about 33 ° C, then the temperature between the insulated roof and the ceiling had to be more than 40 ° C. Which is the temperature long known to reliably kill the mites. High temperature had to have been there for hours and I was wondering how the bees in the shop could survive such heat.
As soon as I could I ran to the shop for my lunch. The bees were posted on the facade and aired heavily. They had to leave the brood. I was afraid that the heat would necessarily melt the combs and kill the immature bees. That is why in the following days I would come to the bees several times a day looking for cast-out larvae, pupae, or at least the chewed wax from the warped combs. In vain! The fetus and the combs must have survived.
Thus began my journey to the invention of Thermosolar Hive. I realized that if the sun heats the hive enough, it can kill Varroa mites and yet it does not damage the bee colony. I plunged into the study of thermal treatment. Even before I had known thermal treatment was an alternative to the conventionally used chemical treatment, which is neither sustainable nor healthy for bees and humans. I found a few devices that used heat to destroy mites, but were either incomplete or their usage was very time consuming and laborious, or devices dependent on electricity. Nothing was usable in beekeeping practice. There was nothing that would have been able to heal with minimal beekeepers’s effort, only with the help of freely available solar energy.
That same year I started working on the first prototype of the hive, which tested killing mites by solar thermotherapy. A great help to me was my friend Jan, who supported me and helped me overcome many obstacles. The first prototypes have already proved to be efficient in destroying the mites. What’s more they helped the colonies many other ways. We gradually improved the technology of the hive. When thousands of mites were wiped out without harming the brood or any negative impact on the colonies, patent application was filed. The concept of Thermosolar Hive™ of the future was born.”