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  1. #1

    Default Colony disinfecting, lye, oxalic acid, etc.

    I recently aquired 20 colonies, complete with honey supers that wax moth have ravished. Doing some study, I discovered that a boiling lye water solution would clean the frames up and provide the necessary scarification to afb and efb spores to destroy them. I first cleaned and scraped all the frames, knocked the old foundation out and then set up a 55 gallon drum of lye and water on the gas cooker and away I went boiling the frames in the boxs for 20 minuites each. Man did that stuff come out looking great, like brand new. We do have access to an ETO chamber in Md. but for what they charge, I can buy alot of lye and gas, plus it wont strip the frames clean like boiling sodium hydroxide will.

    I then started to do research on how best to neutralize the lye water mixture for enviromentaly friendly disposal. I got a severe run around fromt the state agencies and local college professors. When I called a friend of mine that runs a refinishing business, Chem Strip, he said use oxalic acid. He further stated that I should neutralize all the woodenware in oxalic acid as well to obtain a neutral ph and return the wood to its former color.

    In doing my research for this project, the documentation said to rinse the lye dipped frames and boxes in water and then throw them on the ground and let the sun bake them dry on all sides for a while.

    I know oxalic acid is used in bee colonies for Varroa Control and I am wondering if I do neutralize these frames in oxalic acid will the bees object to this when they are installed. This equipment wont be used for a few months so I figure if I rinse them well after the lye bath, neutralize them in oxalic acid and rinse them again in water and allow to sun dry for a couple of weeks, most of the residue should dissapate. Any comments, ideas or suggestions?

    The whole idea behind this operation is to be able to get our next crop of new beekeepers from our short course into a colony of bees for under $100.00.

    Thank You,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    North Hills, CA USA

    Default Cleaning

    Hawkman I use a junk electrical 80 gal.or so water heater that I cut the top off of and disabled the thermostat, to disinfect hive equipment with lye @ 1lb sodiun hydroxide/10 gal water. (LYE ADDED TO THE WATER ONLY NEVER THE REVERSE).
    If I suspect AFB, wood is emersed for about 15-20 min. in a rolling boil.
    If I am cleaning frames of residual wax from the solar melter then the frames 15 at a time are submerged for about 5 min. then halled out and sprayed with the hose on the driveway and left in the sun to dry. I do not use any nutralizer such as a very weak acid solution.
    The frames show no problem by the water rinse only and I am shure that some frames have been through the process several times in 30 years +.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Beverly, Mass

    Default Neutrailizing NaOH soln

    I am assuming your Hydroxide soln was not greater than 10%.
    What you could use is a 5% soln of white vinegar, and after
    rinse with water. Or get some muratic(HCl) acid from Home depot and dilute
    to 5% and do the same.

    Of course wear goggles and old clothes.

    The safe method is to burn the old equipment and buy new and shake over,
    feed heavily. You could draw new comb this summer and fall for next year.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Danbury,Ct. USA


    New wooden frames are 85 cents each. With an air gun and a jig to hold them you can crank them out. Even an electric brad-nailer will do. Use some glue and you've got all new frames. I expect you'll have to go back over the boiled ones anyway. I just don't see the percentage. Scorching the boxes should be enough for them. Besides, it will be easier to put foundation in new frames.

    My two cents,



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