Cleaning deceased brood boxes

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jbr 

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I lost two colonies this winter, probably due to the bad weather.

Most of the dead bees in the brood boxes had mould on them when I found them. There was both capped and uncapped honey on most frames, all honey appeared to be mould free.

My question is how to best clean the inside of the brood box and frames ready for a new colony to go in during late spring? Can I reuse the wax/honey in any way?
 

ian 

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Hi Jbr

Flame out the boxes with a blow torch, give a good scrape first to get the worst off.

Cut out the comb out of the frames and melt down, if you only have a solar extractor put comb in a bee proof bin untill the sun comes out...........

Frames can be scraped and boiled up in caustic if you wish(seconds frames are cheap) your time may be better spent............

I would never re-use anything(frames/honey/wax) from die-outs. Melt it down and trade in.


Regards Ian
 

Polyanwood 

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Commiserations. I agree with Ian. Get rid of and preferably burn frames, wax and stores. Scorch and scrape box. Make sure tools/suit/ beebrush, etc. clean too. The polystyrene roof I have scrubbed with bleach solution.

I have taken the opportunity to give the outsides a clean and coat of cuprinol clear too... that cheered me up after the dead out.
 

gavin 

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I would try to work out why they died first. Nosema? Acarine? Foulbrood? Queen problem? Starvation? (Less common than people think, I reckon)

Acetic acid (80%) fumigation would clean comb of Nosema, EFB, chalkbrood, viruses, and so I would re-use clean comb after fumigation. If I was sure it wasn't foulbrood or Nosema I'd be tempted to keep frames of stores, skinflint that I am.

Bin anything with solid remains on/in the frames.

But a scorched earth policy is safer of course.

best wishes

Gavin
 

Hivemaker. 

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>I would try to work out why they died first. Nosema? Acarine? Foulbrood? Queen problem? Starvation? (Less common than people think, I reckon)

I agree,this would be my main priority,bee's don't just up and die because of bad weather.
 

Chris B 

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With my own frames I would take the view that if frames look clean they probably are clean, on the assumption there's no foulbrood history. (Foulbrood would not be the cause of a winter death unless it was already symptomatic the previous season).
Every other nasty that lingers in combs is found mainly in the manky looking ones. So I would take the opportunity to replace the old and keep the new.
 

mbc 

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Blue tits have lost 90% of the population that was ready to go into winter.
Off topic ? I dont hink so - point being mama nature likes to whittle populations down a bit over the winter
I agree with Gavin and ChrisB - diagnose the problem and if its not AFB treat the box's and combs with 80% acetic acid taking the opportunity to get rid of any old or badly drawn comb while your at it
 

BlipiBee 

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Having bought second hand hives, I wish to prep them for the bees I hope to get soon. (Still none secured!)

As I don't have a blow torch or similar (have also heard they can be a bit harsh) I will need another way to clean.

Soda has been suggested and I would like to know the best way to do this and whether it matters if a little propolis still remains.

What soda is best?

Thanks!
 

match 

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The soda is question is Caustic Soda - better known as Sodium Hydroxide, NOT Bicarbonate of Soda (or baking soda). This stuff is pretty nasty, so wear gloves and eye protection when using it. It'll turn any organic matter (including propolis and wax) into soap, which you then wash off. So don't use it on the frames unless you want the wax destroyed!

Alternatively, you can use a solution of 3% bleach and 5% vinegar which is recommended as a very effective steriliser of equipment. Its also safe to be used on all equipment (provided you rinse it afterwards). It won't remove propolis or wax though, so you'll still need to scrape these off first. Again, gloves are a good idea.
 

BlipiBee 

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Ah, now that was a question I was too shy of asking: what soda! Didn't think it would be baking soda but ye never know! :)

Is there a place you can get Caustic soda from or is it readily available from stores? I think I'll get scrubbing soon and give them time to air out again before introducing bees, unless I should be cleaning just before putting in bees?

As I don't really have a mentor yet, couldn't get on a course and am totally new to all this there are many questions! Can't wait to get going really!

Thanks for your help!
 

Hebeegeebee 

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Is caustic soda the same as washing soda?
 

Hebeegeebee 

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jbr,
How big were your colonies going into winter?
Were they treated for varroa in December/January. i.e. did you see them alive at that time?
Did you buy queens from somewhere exotic?
Your bee inspector may be able to look and give advice. They are usually good guys!
 

BlipiBee 

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Hi Heebeegeebee

I'm not sure if Caustic is the same as washing powder, maybe wash powder has some in it's mix but I'm suspecting pure caustic would be too strong for clothes?

But hey, I'm no chemistry expert! :D
 

oliver90owner 

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Is caustic soda the same as washing soda?

So the answer is NO! They are not the same. Strong and weak come to mind, but both are alkaline.

Regards, RAB
 

Repwoc 

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NaOH = Sodium Hydroxide or Caustic Soda. Very alkaline and will saponify fats, including those in your skin - that's why it feels soapy if you get any on your hands. Protective clothing advised when handling. Take care.

Na2CO3 = Sodium Carbonate or Soda Ash. This is washing soda. Also forms alkaline solutions because of hydrolysis (ie there will be OH- ions in solution). Less vigorous than NaOH. Safer to handle.

NaHCO3 = Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate or Sodium Bicarbonate. This is Baking Powder. Much less alkaline than the others due to the H+ ions mopping up the OH- ions.
 

Poly Hive 

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Blue tits.

I pondered this 90% comment and thought it looked odd.

I have browsed the British Trust for Ornithology and they have nothing I can find to substantiate this figure.

Nor is there anything on the RSPB site that I have found.

PH
 

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Soda has been suggested and I would like to know the best way to do this and whether it matters if a little propolis still remains.

What soda is best?

Thanks!
Don't use lye to wooden hives. It spoils the wood and contaminates the surface.

Lye is used to break down the wood to cellulose and lignin.

Frame wood is easy to boil in the 3% lye water. Hot melts releases resings and wax and soda kills all microbes. Soda turns the wax to soap. Frame wood is easy to wash and neuralize from lye.



.
 
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Black Comb 

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Lots of blue tits in this part of the world.
About the same (if not more) than last year.

Subjective assessment of course.
 

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