In detail

The Thermosolar Hive™ is a modern hive consisting of boxes, equipped with active surfaces, enabling changing the sunshine into thermal energy to warm the brood chamber.

whole hive

The hive consists of the following parts:

The outer cover

The outer cover is very well insulated (necessary precondition) and is similar to common types of hives. Thermal inertia of the hive depends on the insulation of the outer cover, and it is used to regulate the hive warming process. By removing the outer cover, we start the warming process of thermosolar treatment, by placing it back on, we finish the process.

Thermosolar ceiling

Thermosolar ceiling is a completely unique device. Basically it is a strongly insulated frame with active surface inserted. The surface is coated with special colour, which was being tested and refined for long time. Its specifics is an admixture which increases significantly the conversion ratio of varied shortwave light radiation into longwave thermal radiation. Without this key admixture the heating based on common colours is not ideal, and under the common light conditions the hive would not work. That would disable repeated treatment of bee colonies in the requested intervals and decrease the functionality of the whole system. That is why it is necessary to ensure high quality production and accurate compliance to recipe for composition of colours.

Over this surface there is a system of glasses, which provides for strong greenhouse effect above the active surface, preserving great light transmittance.

Thermosolar ceiling is not intended for increasing the temperatures for long time. Thanks to its high efficiency it is designed solely for thermosolar treatment of bee brood. The beekeeper activates the ceiling by simple removing of the outer cover. Thermosolar ceiling is equipped with integrated digital thermometers, which allow monitoring the treatment temperature constantly both in the upper and lower parts of the brood chamber.

Thermosolar box

Thermosolar box is specific in several aspects. Firstly the front wall is narrowed considerably, in order to allow the sunlight permeate through the inserted window. Behind the window from the interior of the front wall, there is a metal sheet, coated with the above described special colour.

In late summer, in the period of main thermosolar treatment, the drone comb is cut out, and the queen bees refuse to lay into the virgin comb after solstice. Most of the brood is therefore located in the single upper super, where it is possible to apply thermal treatment efficiently. The solar treatment is able to exterminate mites within the distance of 40 cm from the heat-radiating surface. If the brood was located in the lower supers, it would not be treated thermally there. Thus it is crucial for the treatment to meet the condition of placing all the brood inside the single upper super.

The queen bees in the thermosolar hives usually lay eggs in a single, upper super, especially in the spring. As the warm air rises from the thermosolar frames, the mother bees lay eggs in the direction of this thermal gradient.

To insulate the thermosolar super, special thermo foils are used. It has to be insulated precisely to ensure complete air impermeability of the hive. Only 1mm of this foil is equivalent to 6mm of common polystyrene. Common supers, well-insulated as they may be, never reach this strict key standard. The warm air has high ability to dissipate through the walls of the common supers. Therefore it is not possible for the common supers to reach the treatment temperature and preserve the temperature for the whole necessary time of treatment. That is also why special attention is paid to insulating the glasses in the supers of thermosolar hives.

The supers include tight closable eyelet and haptic bars. Outer shade is quite essential, it may be used to screen the front wall and disable the solar heating, which may be useful for example on warm winter days to prevent further increase of temperatures from activating the bee colonies undesirably, or not to overheat the divide with the young mother bee during hot summer. The shading effect may be utilized in hot summer, when solar heating could be counterproductive.

Thermosolar super is also equipped with a sealed divide for breeding mother bees. One divide is supplied with each thermosolar hive.

Varroa bottom

Varroa bottom is designed similarly as in other modern beehives consisting of supers. It is specific with insulating lining though, which prevents heat loss during thermal treatment. Treatment would not be so efficient without the specially lined varroa bottom.

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For more information about the treatment, functions and benefits of the hive, please visit our FAQ.

24 thoughts on “In detail

  1. I own 2 Flow hives (and am new to the hobby). I wonder if this technology would work with flow frames insides a thermosolar hive. And could one modify the thermosolar hive for Flow frames for harvesting.

    • We have not tested Flow frames inside our Thermosolar Hive, but there is no reason why should it not work. Flow hive is based on Flow frames that can be used in almost any hive. Thermosolar Hive focus on brood box where the brood is treated – Varroa mites are eliminated. Flow focus on honey box – where the honey is stored. There is definitely no problem with construction, it should fit without any problem. And there is probably (we have not tested yet, but it seems logical) another bonus: when the bees bring honey that granulate (harden) very fast and there is a problem of flow, our hive should help easily. Flow hive says that in this case, you have to take the frames out of the hive and warm them carefuly. In our hive, you can just adjust temperature in the honey box and hardened honey inside Flow frames should become more soft, so it will be possible to extract it in usual way.

    • Richard, we are not infrared or UV experts. However, I saw some study few years ago about experiment which uses such technology, but the results were negative. So I don’t think it will work on mites.

  2. hELLO! Keeping bees in California, where the honey often gets warm enough in the hive to kill off certain enzymes, creates one way that California honey fails EU criteria..we still have mites.. Does the thermosolar heating also affect enzyme loss in honey? I want to learn more about solar thermal.
    Choose love,
    KO

    • Hello KO,
      the thermosolar heating does not affect the enzyme loss as the therapy is used after the honey chamber is removed. Only the brood chamber is being heated (brood with the mite) and not the honey. The honey will not go through the healing temperatures.
      The thermosolar therapy is a short procedure so it does not affect the honey which is left for the bees in the brood chamber.
      The standard temperature in the brood chamber is 35°C and can reach 36°C before swarming. We are using temperatures above 40°C that are already killing the varroa mites but are safe for the bees.

  3. Hello,

    I am new to beekeeping and looking for ways to improve the rate of survival. Do you have to put the outer cover back on as soon as the temperature hits a certain degree or can you allow it go over over that temperature? I am asking because I work full time and will not be able to watch the bee hive closely throughout the day. How often do you need to do the treatment? I am definitely Interested in purchasing one when they are manufactured!

    • Hello Allison, thermotherapy is done only 2 or 4 times per year in the spring and in the summer. Early spring treatment is not so important as late summer treatment. So early spring treatment could be skipped, but late summer treatment is necessary (usually in August or September). Both spring and summer treatment consists of two therapies. During this two treatments all Varroa mites are eliminated. After the first treatment (which kills 90-95% of mites) the second one should follow in 7-14 days to eliminate all the rest of mites. So you will need to make time for thermotherapy just in two sunny days per year to achieve the results. And it could be weekends :-).
      Thermotherapy is done in this way: Beekeeper opens the outer cover in morning hours (around 9:00) and wait until both sensors in upper and lower part of the frame shows temperatures over 40°C (104°F). At this moment, he/she starts to time 2.5 hours. When one of the sensors reaches 47-47,5°C (116.5-117.5°F) beekeeper puts the outer cover back on to stop temperatures at this level. Beekeeper should be present during whole thermotherapy, in order to keep an eye on sensors. It is not laborous at all, but it will take a few hours. However, if the beekeepers use chemicals to suppress the mites, it is also time consuming and it is usually done more often during the year.
      Jan

    • It is not only possible, but after thousands of thermotherapies, we are very sure about it. We have carried multiple test with even higher temperatues and the wax and combs stays untouched. Wax melts over 60°C and softens around 50°C. Such temperatures are not reached during the thermotherapy. However, we recommend being cautious in case of heavily overloaded frames and we also recommend horizontal wiring of the frames, which protects the comb. Also it is not recommended to have virgin comb in the brood chamber. With these conditions kept, no harm can be done to combs during thermotherapy.

  4. It is not easy to visualize what you are talking about withouy pictures. Ever consider a thermostatic heater to heat the entire hive to a specific temperature for a prescribed lenght of time?

    • Paul, thank you for your feedback – I have added a picture of the hive.
      Yes, we have considered many other possibilities, but: Thermostatic heater have negative aspects – dependency on electricity (not often present on apiary), higher price, more complicated device (chance of fault) and most importantly: it is not possible to treat in the way that is ideal for the colony. That is why we have two systems of heating (front windows and ceiling) in order to raise tamperatures slowly and in the way which the bees are unable to ventilate. We also do not use any blowing of hot air that would have negative effects on the colony (drying). We have tested different methods, but realized that this way of thermotherapy is safest for the colony and also most effective in Varroa elimination.

  5. As a new beekeeper, I have done extensive research before entering into beekeeping. I realize that our bee populations are dying out and am worried (as we all are) of bee extinction, the varroa mite is merely one element that the bees have to overcome, does warming have any other practical use other than reducing the mite?

    • Yes, it has, although Varroa mite elimination is the most important one. Warming in Thermosolar Hive speeds up the spring expansion of the bee colonies so colonies are strong enough to make use of early spring flow. Bees are also stronger during the whole season and have much higher flight activity (it is based on several factors, all of them connected with warming of the hive). Warming in Thermosolar Hive also saves winter honey reserves and helps the bees with thermal support during severe frost (it is almost always sunny it time of such frosts). Hive also saves reserves throughout the season, because reserves are used to heat the brood and maintain ideal temperature of the brood. It is stated that colonies consume about 100 kg (220 pounds) of honey per season to maintain the desired temperature of the brood. Thermosolar Hive can save part of this huge amount of honey because it helps with long-term slight thermal support of the hive and brood. So the warming has many advantages and almost none disadvantages. There is only one clear disadvantage – to achieve such results, you can’t have cheapest hive made of few boards. Much more sophisticated hive is necessary.

  6. I,m a beekeper from Slovenia, and I would like to know if I would like to treat bees only with your metod is that enough for their survival?

    • Roberto, if you speak about the biggest threat – Varroa mites, than you can treat only with the Thermosolar Hive. Thermotherapy is far more effective than any other chemical treatment, no other treatment is needeed.

  7. I am not sure how all this works. Can you add this setup to the hives I already have or do I need to buy one of your hives? I live Washington state so if I could add this to my hies would be a great way to get the bees through the winter.

    • Gary, it is not possible to combine parts of Thermosolar Hive with normal hives. It would not work. Thermosolar Hive works only as a whole, construction of this hive is pretty sophisticated to ensure raising and preserving higher brood temperature for 2,5 hours. However, you can treat more colonies in the Thermosolar Hive, it is not only a hive, but also a treatment device.

  8. so i would only need 1 Thermosolar hive to treat all my colonies as i couldnt afford anything else, how would that work?

    • Yes Pete, Thermosolar Hive is not only a hive, but also a treatment device, you can treat more colonies with it. All you need is to take frames from the brood box of classical hive, put them into Thermsolar Hive, do the thermotherapy and return the frames back to the original hive. It is done only two times per year – at the end of summer when you need to protect winter bees from varroa infestation. And it is extremely effective.
      However, you need to know that this is posssible only with several colonies. If you have dozens of colonies, you will need more than one Thermosolar Hive or treat only part of your hives with one Thermosolar Hive and the rest with classical chemical treatment. It would be time consuming to treat high number of colonies with only one Thermosolar Hive.

  9. I built a 4 inch high box the same length and width as my hive body which I can put over the brood hive bodies. It has a 1/4 inch plywood top
    I drilled 1/4 inch holes in the corners and mid point of each side to allow bees to get to the honey storage above. There is a 2 1/2 X 4 on hole in one side that I have a duct transition to 3 inch duct. This connected to a box with heat lamps 4 bulbs. There is fan in the box blowing air into the duct to the hive. I have an adjustable opening for fresh air. I have a Variac to control current to bulbs. My hives has screen bottoms and I have boards that can have different hole sizes. I have a thermostat in the hive above the brood and another below. This allowse to monitor and control air temperature in the hive. Will be able to use it on all my bees

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