Sterilizing a straw skep

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

user 382

House Bee
Dec 6, 2008
Reaction score
I purchased a large second hand straw skep last year. Before I use it I?d like to sterilize it. Would it be OK to treat it with acetic acid and if so what strength and for how long?

Hi Steve,

I have three skeps and never cleaned (cant spell sterilised) any of them.
When you consider how long the swarm are going to be in a skep then its really minimal, as they need to be placed in a Nuc or Hive asap.
So lets look at what disease a swarm might have,
Noseam - possible so check it out.
Acarine - again possible so check it out.
Carrying Varroa - probable, so dust and count the mite drop and treat accordingly.
Viruses - we just don't know.

I would not bee too concerned with sterilising the skep, but I suppose AA might help.

I would suggest no to use a blow torch:svengo:

Possibly one of the many house-hold sprays that kill 99.9999% of bacteria etc as stated on the can?

But I think Bcarzy is more correct ref their use.
Cheers guys. :cheers2:

As I've got a whole load of supers to treat with acetic acid, I'll just pop it in with them.

And for some reason Jim, scorching it never crossed by mind. LOL.


P.S. Heres a tip I picked up recently regarding treating with acetic acid. Rather than just taping up the boxes with a floor and and crown board on top, instead, place the entire stack inside a wheelie bin bag liner then tie up the top - simple and more effective at keeping the acetic acid fumes in.
Hi Steve,

As an after thought I would not advise treating the skep with any disinfectant type solutions as it will get in between the pieces of straw and the ties, where bees probe with their proboscis.

It up to you mate as its your skep.

Acetic acid kills only nosema spores and European foul brood.
It does not help much.

Virkon S is possibly better.
Could you not put it into a metal bucket of boiling water then boil for a while? would this be enough to kill everything off or would it damage the skep
Last edited:
Do you know what type of straw it's made from ? And do you intend *plastering* it with cow muck? :puke:

Actually I'll be interested to hear your progress with this hive. To what extent will you be adapting your beekeeping methods ?
Most people use skeps for hiving swarms. We did this last year and ran out of hives to put a swarm in (we had a lot of swarms!!) so we kept it in the skep for several months to see what would happen. They built comb and thrived but eventually, obviously, they became overcrowded so we decided to put them into a National and with the help of the local Bee inspector and using chicken wire put them into standard frames.

This colony has over wintered well but I will not be going down the road of keeping bees in skeps. We have prolific bees and all are on a brood and a half with two on double, so they don't fit. Perhaps bees in earlier times had smaller colonies?
Perhaps bees in earlier times had smaller colonies?
Yes, they had and they produced 2 svarms per colony every year.
The problem in skep is that you cannot change the queen and you cannot prevent swarming.

Swarmng is beekeepers worst enemy.

Movable frame was a great invention in beekeeping and it made possible queen breeding. - and calm bees and not so much stings.

But there are lot of people who like to return 200 years back or 2000 years if they could. So you will have all problems what beekeepers have 200 years ago.

Latest posts