Product development of a bee hive heating system for combatting the Varroa mite
The Varroa mites pose a lethal threat to domesticated honey bee populations. Hyperthermia is an alternative chemical-free treatment reducing the stress on the colony caused by conventional varroacites. Vatorex offers a product system with heating wires on the brood combs. Three layers of control units regulate the amount of electrical current for the heat treatment cycles. The research aim was to develop a cheap and easy to use mounting system for the heat control. By making use of field and literature research, expert interviews and product analysis, the analysis phase identified further potential for improvement in the overall product concept. This was specified in form of evaluation criteria which the product concept should fulfil. The concept and draft design phase consisted of four cycles, exploring different variants and combinations through sketches and critical function prototypes. The most fitting concept was refined during the detail phase, resulting in a product system with an overall control unit on the outside of the box, conduction through wall protruding bolts and contact fingers on the frames and the frame output panel with a wire closing the circuit. This concept fulfils the main specifications, reduces the number of fixation points, the installation effort and reliable electrical contacts, and should be further pursued. Further clarifications are necessary regarding the strategic positioning and target group, the functionality of the electrical compounds and the sensitivity of the bees to the installation process.