Bees are a food producing “creature” so all beekeepers should maintain simple hygiene practices to prevent contamination of honey and the spread of disease.
Contamination can come from improper use of varroa treatment, contamination of comb between removal from the hive and packing and from Tutin.
Disease can be spread by bees themselves when robbing or by the beekeeper using unsterilized tools and equipment.
Clean your hive tools between apiary visits. Scrape off wax and propolis and either sterilize in your smoker while pumping to get a flame or have a bucket with bleach solution handy to dip it into.
These are difficult to clean, however the barrel will not be a problem as it gets very hot. Scrub the bellows part with bleach solution. When your smoker becomes too clogged up with tar pour some meths in and light it with the top closed, this will burn away the tar.
It is good to wash your beesuit regularly as bees will react to sweaty clothing smells. If you have been attacked, the bees leave a pheromone that will attract them to sting more. Always wash your beesuit separately to your normal wash as the venom left on the beesuit can cause allergy problems to others in the house. Remove the hood before washing in the washing machine, zip it up and wash the hood by hand with warm soapy water.
Scrape off wax and propolis before washing. (We sell a propolis removal spray) Do not wash in the washing machine. (Note – our Sherriff gloves may be washed in the machine with gentle cycle at no more than 30 deg) Hand wash and lay out flat to dry out of direct heat.
General Hive Hygiene
Do not leave wax or comb lying around after attending your hives as this encourages robbing and consequently the spread of disease. Hanging your frames on a frame perch is a practical way of keeping frames clean while you are inspecting your hive.
Never use second hand hiveware as you do not know if they are contaminated and there is no way of sterilizing it unless you paraffin dip them at 160 degrees C. for 10 minutes.
If you catch a swarm, keep it separate from other hives until you can establish it is free of AFB.
Clean your feeders when you take them out of the hive as sugar syrup can ferment or go mouldy and bracken will rot. Always use clean sugar syrup and keep it covered to prevent bees entering.
When storing frames that have been extracted ready for the next season, firstly freeze them for a few days to kill wax moth, then put them in a sealed container or box to prevent wax moth re-infestation.