New Technology in Varroa Control - Varrox EDDY

Thursday 20 October 2022

Varroa mite management has become an integral part of beekeeping in most parts of the world. There are many different treatments available to control mite populations in honey bee colonies, and it is valuable to be familiar with a variety of these options for the benefits and challenges they present. Andermatt BioVet has two new products on the market which help in dispensing oxalic acid and formic acid, respectively.  We will take the next two blogs to review these products and our experience in using them for mite treatments.

New Technology in Varroa Control – Varrox EDDY

An important part of varroa mite management is to monitor for population levels throughout the beekeeping season and apply timely treatments when necessary. Two hives managed by ATTTA were determined, using the alcohol wash method, to be above the economic threshold for Varroa treatment.  We chose to try two new treatment applicators on these hives effected by varroa mites. Today we will discuss one of these new applicators, the Varrox EDDY.

Varrox EDDY

Varrox EDDY is a new, user-friendly tool from Andermatt BioVet for applying oxalic acid dihydrate treatments to honey bee colonies through sublimation, colloquially called vaporization in the beekeeping world. The device comes in a compact case which makes transport and storage extremely convenient. It is battery powered and rechargeable, with the capacity to treat up to 15 colonies per charge. Having an integrated, rechargeable battery incorporated into the device proved to be very convenient. Attaining the necessary power to sublimate oxalic acid powder can be challenging if you do not already have equipment to support this need. Until the Varrox EDDY, oxalic acid vaporizers have been powered via a cord to an external source or a 12-volt battery. Both of these present difficulties and require the aid of an additional equipment. For example, to maintain the life of your 12-volt battery, you must also buy a charger, and to operate the cord-powered vaporizer there must be a power source to plug into. Having all the necessary components sold together is a distinct advantage of the Varrox EDDY. This convenience does come at a price. The Varrox EDDY is locally available for upwards of $700. Comparatively, the external battery 12-volt powered VARROX® Vaporizer can be purchased for around $200, for the applicator only. 

A look inside the Varrox EDDY carrying case, alongside a pen for scale. The base of the device is grey plastic and has a place to hold a metal crucible. Oxalic acid is placed on this crucible using the included measuring spoon.  The yellow battery pack is attached to the base but is removed for charging and safe storage. (ATTTA©2022)

Another advantage of the Varrox EDDY is its simple operation. There are clear instructions for use and safety included in the product case which can also be found on the Andermatt webpage. For those familiar with the VARROX® vaporizer which preceded Varrox EDDY, you will find the entire application process has been made simpler by way of the treatment timing being controlled by the device. The oxalic acid powder is simply placed on the metal crucible, inserted into the bottom entrance of the hive, and a button is pressed which controls the timing of the sublimation as well as safe removal. Once the sublimation is complete, a second crucible is provided and useful to quickly move along to the next hive without waiting for the device to cool. There are colored lights which signal when the device is on, when sublimation is occurring, when the device is cooling, and when it is ready to be removed. This helps to instill the user with confidence that everything is moving along smoothly, and the whole process is complete within a couple of minutes. To add to this, there are lights which appear to indicate when the process is not proceeding normally. Users can then refer to the information booklet provided to correct the situation. For safety, wear proper personal protective wear including a face mask, eyewear, and chemical grade gloves.

Varrox EDDY during treatment. Cloth is being used to block the hive entrance and retain vapor within the colony.  The indicator light will change color when treatment is complete and again when it is safe to remove the device from the hive. The cloth should remain for an additional 10 minutes.  (ATTTA©2022)

Overall, the Varrox EDDY is a useful tool that we would be happy to use again! The ease of use, when compared to similar applicators, is a big plus.  For less experience beekeepers, this is helpful for navigating a new chemical treatment option in varroa mite management. Andermatt BioVet states that the device has the capacity to treat up to 15 hives per charge which may limit its use for larger commercial operations. Only one battery is included but an extra would also be useful for achieving additional treatments between charges.  The durability of this tool is yet to be determined, but it does appear to be well constructed.  Although not the costliest oxalic acid applicator available, the price may be prohibitive for those on a budget! Not having to lug a heavy, external 12-volt battery, as required for most other applicators, makes this task so much easier!  In conclusion, our initial thoughts are that this is a well-engineered, simple to use applicator.  Check out next week’s blog for a review of our experience using the Liebig-Dispenser formic acid applicator.

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