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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    1,693

    Default Bleach for combless frame sterilization/disinfection; opinions wanted

    Hello all,
    I have a ton of old used frames, mostly no comb, but a few with old comb. I plan to scrape all comb out, not using it because of unknown history. Is it possible to make them safe for reuse by dipping in bleach solution? Please input here. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Greenwich, NY, USA
    Posts
    69

    Default Re: Bleach for combless frame sterilization/disinfection; opinions wanted

    When one is talking about 'cleaning and disinfecting' in the academic world and trying to transfer to practical applications, there are important caveats that don't often translate. Cleaning is often the most important part of the phrase, and that is almost impossible to do with wood. That is why hospitals and food prep facilities use so much stainless steel. Wood has lots of pores and crevices that you may or may not be able to see where really small stuff like bacteria can hide and be protected from disinfectants. If you find a scientific paper that says E coli is killed by this disinfectant in .05 seconds, you might think that is good, but if that disinfectant can never get to the E. coli because it is hiding in some wood pores, the scientific paper doesn't matter.

    The other problem is the disinfectants can be inactivated. Soil will quickly cause bleach to become worthless. Your first frames may inactivate the bleach for the last ones. So, you may want to look at what will survive the process and still disinfect, and now you are starting to talk about really expensive chemicals that may leave residues and not be all that effective to begin with.

    Depending on what the exposure is, there may or may not be anything to clean to begin with. If you are worried about AFB (American Foul Brood), keep in mind that

    1. it is not exceptionally common

    2. It makes a spore that is highly resistant to most any chemicals. That is why common advice is to burn the hive.

    3. You might be able to see evidence of AFB in the comb you are removing, but no on the wood of the frames.

    So, if you are worried about AFB, bleach will not work for you.

    If you are worried about the protozoans, such as Nosema, which does not make a spore like the bacteria that causes AFB, then time may be the key, bleach may work, but there is not a lot of information available here and I think there may be some work going on as to the persistency of the bug on equipment.

    If I were buying used frames and the comb was not available for inspection, the value would probably be the same as kindling. Some will argue not to buy used frames anyways because there are too many questions. If you are worried about AFB, someone could have had spores all through their frames without any signs of disease because they were regularly feeding antibiotics to keep the vegetative form that causes the scales and dead brood from forming.

    Hope that wasn't the too long answer to a short question,

    Chris Cripps
    chris@betterbee.com
    800-632-3379 extension 8001
    Greenwich, NY

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    1,693

    Default Re: Bleach for combless frame sterilization/disinfection; opinions wanted

    So the consensus would be to burn them; is that what I'm hearing? I'm quite fine with that, if that's the advice. I have already burned a handful of the frames, but I stopped because some are in such good shape that I hate to burn them. But if burning them is best, I will do it. Thanks Chris!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,624

    Default Re: Bleach for combless frame sterilization/disinfection; opinions wanted

    That's a really good answer Chris. I have heard of beekeepers boiling old frames in lye water. It's a stinky mess and you end up with a frame that has been structurally weakened. Just remember the wood is only about half the cost of a new frame. Do you really want to put new foundation in a hopefully disinfected frame? Personally based on the few pictures you posted I kind of doubt that there is much risk of AFB but why take the risk putting something in your outfit that you might always regret?
    Last edited by jim lyon; 12-06-2012 at 08:59 AM. Reason: typo
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    1,693

    Default Re: Bleach for combless frame sterilization/disinfection; opinions wanted

    Well said, Jim. Thanks.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Greenwich, NY, USA
    Posts
    69

    Default Re: Bleach for combless frame sterilization/disinfection; opinions wanted

    The part I wrote asking "what are you concerned with?" is important. If you have looked and are really clear of AFB, perhaps you are ok to use them. If you aren't sure, maybe you don't want to use them at all like Jim said. Personally, I used to use them and now I give them to a friend with a woodstove. Probably best if they do have AFB that they don't sit out on the woodpile also!
    Chris
    chris@betterbee.com
    800-632-3379 extension 8001
    Greenwich, NY

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