Does anyone have any suggestions for chemical sterlization of bee boxes and frames? Would soaking them in isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide kill AFB spores? I can even get hold of the heavy hydrogen peroxide used in swimming pools for fairly cheap. I'd rather not use a torch on this eq if at all possible...
Nevermind, the State Inspector (MD) answered my questions:
Chemical are not reliable sterilizers of bee boxes. AFB spores can survive very harsh chemicals. MD has a fumigation chamber available to fumigate used equipment or equipment suspected of contamination. Cost is reasonable: $4 per deep, $3.50 per medium, $1.50 per top, bottom board, excluder, etc.
You call it a fumigation chamber after you mentioned they said "chemicals are not reliable....".
So what are they using in the chamber if not chemicals? Heat? Radiation?
I would make sure for the cost of what they are charging, that it was proven 100% effective. Even then it would be rather easy to acquire the spore through secondary sources. I guess you would have to wiegh the cost vs benefit, etc.
I do not agree with the comment about fumigating "equipment suspected of contamination". If your going to do this, then do ALL equipment. The desease usually surfaces on weak hives. This does not mean its not in all other hives regardless of how strong or healthy they appear. It would be a shame to do half your equipment then find out that another hive, after being weakened, has an outbraek of AFB.
I still believe all hives have this spore. It just breaks out in weak hives. Good beekeeping goes a long way in keeping outbreaks at bay.
Sorry for the vagueness...by chemicals I meant household chemicals. The chemical used in the fumigation chamber is "ethylene oxide". This is the same sterilant used to kill the Anthrax spores in the Brentwood Postal office and the U.S. federal building in DC. (I live near both of these places!) According to the state inspector it is highly effective. Here is a link to describe the chemical:
I would agree, there is no way to guarantee an efficacy of 100% in any sterlization process, however I believe this is as good as can be achieved short of burning the boxes down to ash.
I agree, it's probably not worth it for someone with a lot of hives. But for me it will only cost me $35 to do all of the used equipment that I just bought. I don't have any other equipment yet. In my mind, it's worth the cost to sterilize these as best as possible before getting my apiary set up.
The cost for what the state inspector calls "a full load" is $80.00. That's for 18 deep supers.
Finally, I am not so sure I agree with you that most or all hives contain this spore. However, I am only stating this based on what I have read, not on personal experience. According to the documentation I have read, hives which contain the spore usually do develop the disease and TM treatments on these hives generally only delay the onset of visible symptoms of the disease. Eventually, the TM resistant organisms which survive TM treatments multiply and the hive succumbs rapidly despite treatments.
Again, according to the documentation, this is the reason that using TM to treat hives with visible AFB symptoms is not recommended. Most states require burning or fumigation of hives where AFB is found.
The state inspector here has stated that Maryland has one of the lowest incidences of AFB infection nationwide.
At the very least this process will provide me with a false sense of security!
[This message has been edited by wishthecuttlefish (edited August 15, 2003).]