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Author Topic: Cleaning up second-hand equipment  (Read 1355 times)
House Bee
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Gender: Male
Posts: 74

Location: Brenham, Texas

« on: June 22, 2005, 09:03:04 AM »

I started beekeeping this year with all new equipment but it is becoming overwhelming!  I purchased 6 - 3 lb. packages and had enough equipment for 5 mediums for each hive.  I have caught 4 swarms and now have ten hives and still have not had the time to finish building all my frames!  I'm filling up fast.

So if I could find some used supers, how do I treat them so that I know that they are not diseased?  I have heard of:

1. Boiling them in lye water (dangerous and hard to find a container big enough for a medium box)
2. Soaking them in bleach (easy enough and cheap enough, but does it work)
3. Scorching them with a torch (ok if you have one)
4. Placing them in a gas chamber with a specific gas (have no idea how to make arrangements to do this)

Does anyone have comments on the best way?  I e-mailed Dadent and asked for the ratio of lye/water and they replied that they don't recommend that method because of the safety issue.  They recommend burning (destroying) the frames and scorching the boxes.  The frames are the time consuming part!

I know the bees don't like the smell of paint, but if you painted the inside of a second-hand box and let it dry for about a month, 1) would they refuse to live there and, 2) would a couple of layers of paint be enough of a protection layer to keep any diseases contained and away from the bees?

I know I started this as a hobby and I pictured sitting in front of the TV on long, cold winter nights (IN TEXAS???) putting my equipment together.  Didn't happen.  I also know that I take a lot longer to build my equipment because I glue and extra nail everything. (Yes, I read the posts about glue awhile back.  I still use glue and nails)

Thanks for listening to my rambling!

House Bee
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Posts: 130

Location: Saluda County, SC

« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2005, 10:41:40 AM »

I just rolled the dice (not the best plan, but beats doing nothing and having them swarm!) and used a wire brush to knock off the wax moth cacoons, and re-insert some partially drawn comb.  The bees took a week and cleaned it up like you wouldn't believe.  hope this helps.
House Bee
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Posts: 146

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2005, 11:15:16 AM »

I'm in North Carolina and the gov here has a gas chamber that was actually built to decontaminate the moon rocks that NASA brought back. State agg guy's bought it surplus. They'll clean your stuff up for I think a dollar a box. Of course your to far away for that, but you might want to check with your state ag people and see if they have anything similar.

"King Bee"
Super Bee
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Posts: 1787

Location: Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania

« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2005, 11:47:30 AM »

Check out  They have used frames with drawn comb and boxes.  That might help you.

Super Bee
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Posts: 2791

Location: Finland

« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2005, 11:54:18 AM »

Quote from: fuzzybeekeeper

So if I could find some used supers, how do I treat them so that I know that they are not diseased?  I have heard of:

1. Boiling them in lye water (dangerous and hard to find a container big enough for a medium box)

* Cut  combs off from frames and put frames in punches. Soak punch in hot liquig and turn it uppside down. It takes a minute and punch is ready.

* Keep it soaked in water that lye dilutes away. It is quicker than put together new frames.

* Make 3% lye solution
* pour liquid in earth after use. There is no poison effects. It is NaOH.
* you may also use dishwasher powder.


Handle inside with gas flame that resin is boiling. Scrape extra off.
DON'T paint box inside!


When you handle lye liquid, do not boil it. It developes bad fumes.

It is enough that water is near boiling level. Hot removes the wax. Lye turns wax to soap and wax adheres any more to wood.

Make a boilind container from half barrel, or get a 50 liter wide metal box or container.


Flame handling is usual way to handle the inner walls of box. Bottom board and inner covers too.  You need it often.

I use styrofoam boxes too (plastic). I wash them with warm lye solution.
It loosens the wax and brown excrements.

This basic system, and I do not konow better. It is important to try to  keep hive's hygieny on.
New Bee
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Posts: 9

Location: Canada

« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2005, 11:39:55 PM »

I stack my supers on top of one another and loosely fill inside with crumpled newspapers and top with a bottom board or lid which also needs scorched.Light on paper on fire and wait. Keep water handy and maybe do it where you don't care that the ground gets scorched. After boxes are scorched scrape out with a paint scraper. Alot quicker than a torch.
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