Keeping It Clean

Washing Soda_edited-1
Washing Soda

Hive hygiene is important all year round to preserve healthy bee colonies from cross-infection by diseased bees. And even more so at this time of year, as we clean and repair the tools of our beekeeping trade in preparation for winter storage. But all year round, by far the most effective method of controlling the spread of disease is for the beekeeper to exercise a minimal, but crucial, cleansing ritual for the kit.

My own hive inspection routine involves using different hive tools (a hive tool is like a flat spanner specially designed to work with frames of comb and other hive components) for each of my 5 hives. After each inspection, and before I take my purple nitrile gloves off, each hive tool is immersed in a solution of washing soda and water. This disinfects and cleans the tools.

Any other equipment which is designed to go into and come out of beehives gets the same treatment. Porter escapes, for example, used for clearing bees from supers when it is time to separate the bees from the honey, often become propolised ! And nothing shifts sticky brown propolis stains quite like Washing soda !! And it’s only £1/kilo at Tesco’s !!!  (A missed opportunity, I really could have scripted “Madmen” with copy like that…)

Anyway, here’s a 5-minute video clip, exquisitely put together, as Alec Harden, a beekeeper in East Sussex, discusses “Bees, Trees and Disease” from the site.

Thanks to “B” Scott from Woodland Heritage for drawing my attention to this important message on hive and tool hygiene. You have certainly earned the right to call yourself Queen “B”.

NB. Washing soda is sodium carbonate. DO NOT use Caustic soda, which is sodium hydroxide – that is something quite different – and drastically dangerous!

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