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Beekeeper respirator for varroa treatment respiratory protection equipment
20 Mar 2019

As a beekeeper is both a breeder and a producer, he/she has to provide each bee swarm a shelter in a clean environment as well as appropriate care and constant monitoring. The beekeeping activity includes the management of any risk bees might be facing. Among these tasks, monitoring and treating Varroa mites requires the use of real respiratory protective equipment: beekeeper respirators.

Varroa treatment: respiratory and chemical hazards for beekeepers

Why a Varroa treatement ?

Varroa on domestic bee

The Varroa mite is a true predator for bees. Globally present, it is the world’s most devastating parasite for domestic bees. Feeding on their blood, the Varroa mite develops more or less quickly according to its geographic location and can slowly destroy a whole colony of bees within years if it is not properly treated. Yet, the dangerousness of this mite is not the fact that it feeds on insect’s blood but rather that it transmits viruses to the bees, leading to many diseases and defects that can be lethal. Indeed, the Varroa mite plays a harmful role on the bees’ immune system efficiency. That’s why it is required to quickly treat a colony infested by this mite.


Varroa treatment: formic acid & oxalic acid

Once a bee colony is infested by Varroa mites, beekeepers sometimes don’t have other alternatives than using products that could pose a risk for their health. This way, among all Varroa treatment solutions against these parasites and true bee predators, the formic acid and oxalic acid are oftentimes favored for their proven efficiency.

Why use a beekeeping respirator for Varroa treatment ?

Varroa treatment: a vehicle of professional diseases for beekeepers

Using chemical products to regulate and eliminate bee parasites and predators is subject to health risks. Indeed, whether you are using formic acid or oxalic acid or other products, each agent features properties that can have adverse effects on beekeepers health. Many effects on health such as lesions, chemical burns and other diseases appearing sometimes years later are associated to the use and handling of these products. Thus it is essential to be aware of the risks related to these chemical products in order to understand why respiratory protective equipment for beekeepers is essential.


Formic acid respiratory protection

Formic acid is an organic acid that can be damaging for broods and queens. While treating Varroa mites, it is essential to respect dosages, precautions and temperatures of use. As it is toxic for humans, formic acid must be carefully and properly handled with adapted beekeeper protective equipment (gloves, glasses and mask). Indeed, while spraying this acid, concentrations in the air can reach 400 ppm (part per million).


Particularly irritating, formic acid can cause severe burns in case of skin contact (corrosive effect) or serious eye damage in case of contact with sprayed or acid vapor. Moreover, if inhaled, formic acid is extremely harmful for the breathing tracts. In case of absorption, this acid can perforate the stomach and the gastrointestinal tracts. Thus wearing the appropriate beekeeper respiratory protection is essential while treating varroa mites.


Varroa respirator and beekeeper respirator

Oxalic acid respiratory protection

Also used by beekeepers, oxalic acid is considered as an additional treatment. Easy to use and inexpensive, this acid is very efficient to treat Varroa mites. Yet, just as formic acid, oxalic acid features hazardous properties for health and must be used with precaution too. Used in sublimation, this acid is heated to 160°C in order to be transformed into a very volatile and hazardous gas.


Irritating and toxic, oxalic acid can easily be absorbed by the breathing tracts and skin. Symptoms of absorption of this substance are numerous. It has been proved that the ingestion of oxalic acid can cause blood system disorders and kidney failure. Oxalic acid hazards are not only affecting beekeepers while they treat their hives against Varroa. This acid is also used in other applications like the metal surface treatment process or as a bleaching agent in textile, paper or wood industries.

Which respiratory protective equipment for beekeeping?

Activities & respiratory protection for beekeepers

Depending on activities and on the Varroa treatment process used, beekeeping professionals must be properly protected. Even if specialist magazines only recommend to wear simple disposable masks, using true respiratory protective masks and half-masks for beekeepers is highly recommended because of the toxic nature of the chemical products. Equipped with filters especially designed to purify air from toxic substances that might be inhaled in ambient air, respiratory protective half-masks and panoramic masks – also called gas masks – provide each beekeeper optimal protection.


This way, during Varroa treatment by sublimation that exhausts harmful and irritating gases, using a full face mask is required. During a dripping treatment or while handling treatment products, a half-mask respirator will be sufficient to protect the breathing tracts. A powered air purifying respirator can also be used by beekeepers in order to get an even more powerful and comfortable breathing protection.


Beekeeping respiratory protective devices and filters

Just like pesticides respirators for farmers, while treating for Varroa mites, respirators, half-masks, full face masks and powered air purifying respirators are essential for the safety of people working in the bee sector.



half mask respirator for beekeeper


Beekeeper half-mask

For Varroa treatment and its preparation, it is recommended to be equipped with the X-plore 3300 half-mask. This reduced maintenance dual cartridge respirator is ideal for beekeepers and ensures a large unobstructed field of vision while being cost-effective.




varroa treatment respirator for beekeeping


Beekeeper respirator – full face mask

In order to protect both respiratory tracts and the above part of the face particularly the eyes, it is recommended to wear the X-plore 5500 full face mask. Just like the half-mask, this panoramic mask can be equipped with two EP3 and ABEKK1H2P3 filter cartridges and offers a large field of view to the user.




Beekeeper PAPR powered air purifying respirator


Powered air purifying respirator

Lastly, for people who need the highest level of air purifying respiratory protection, the Duraflow powered air purifying system is the ideal solution to be protected against harmful and irritating substances during Varroa mite treatement. Featuring a motor and a respiratory protective filter, the Duraflow injects clean air directly into the facepiece, reducing the user breathing effort. Thus allowing longer applications in a safer environment.





Beekeeper respirator filter cartridges

The efficiency of an air purifying respiratory protective device depends above all on the filter that is connected to it. In order to meet the needs of beekeepers who have to protect their breathing tracts from toxic and irritating substances, the use of combined filters that ensure protection both against gases and particles is recommended. This way, filters used for beekeepers on their half-masks and panoramic gas mask respirators belong to the E3 and ABEK1HGP3 type. These respirator filters are efficient against organic and inorganic gases and vapors, sulfur dioxide, acids, ammonia, amine compounds, and offer proper respiratory protection against acids used by beekeepers.



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