It is that time of year to think about equipment cleaning and storage. The honey harvest is over and it is time to turn my attention to cleaning hive boxes and frames. Some beekeepers store their brood boxes or honey supers with frames that still have wax/comb in them, but I do not.
I use a few simple tools for cleaning frames.
- A knife
- A pick
- My hive tool
- A small flathead screwdriver
- Using the knife, cut out any comb from the frames
- Scrape wax, burr comb and propolis from frames with the hive tool
- Use the hive tool to pry up the removable wedge piece, then scrape it clean
- Use the small flathead screwdriver to remove wax from bottom groove and clean debris from nooks and crannies
- Use the pick to clean the pin holes in the side bars
To complete the frame cleaning, I soak them in a bleach/water solution. The ratio is 1 part bleach to 5 parts water. (This helps clean any wayward pest eggs and sanitizes the frames.)
After cleaning the frames I turn my attention to the bee box. I use my hive tool to scrape off propolis and burr comb. I then use a handheld propane torch and scorch the inside of my hive boxes, making sure the propolis boils but not allowing the wood to burn. This may be overkill but I want to try to make sure my equipment doesn’t harbor any unwanted pests or possible disease during the winter.
After thoroughly cleaning my equipment, I store it in an open shed up off the ground. I bundle the removable wedge pieces together with a rubber band and put the frames back in their boxes. I stack the boxes in a crisscross pattern so that each box is setting at a 90-degree angle to the one below it. This allows air and light to circulate through and around the equipment.
Once all the frame and bee box clean up is done, I turn my attention to my hive tool. I scrape the wax and propolis off then I soak it in the bleach/water solution.