Cleaning the honey supers
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Burlington, Illinois, USA

    Default Cleaning the honey supers

    Hello everyone,

    hope you are having a great start of the beekeeping season.

    I have question how to clean the honey supers? Last year after we extracted the honey and scraped off the wax from the frames we placed them in the plastic bags and put them in the shed. But during the winter mice somehow got inside and basically lived between the frames. We found dead mice babies, poop, and probably pee. So my question is how do we clean the supers and the frames? Can we use dish soap? will dish soap affect the bees or the honey? Or is it better to throw away the supers along with frames and buy brand new ones.

    The supers and frames we have are these:

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA

    Default Re: Cleaning the honey supers

    Don't throw them away!

    To clean the boxes:

    Scrape the mouse debris away, and then scrub them with hot water and a little bleach water. Rinse well. Air to dry. Sun for a few days. If that doesn't remove the smell of mouse, then I'd consider painting the insides of them with latex paint.

    The frames and foundation: These are usually two, separable, parts.

    First of all, you don't usually scrape the drawn wax comb off of foundation after harvest each year. Drawn comb is very valuable as it saves the bees a lot of work (and less work for the bees = more honey for the beekeeper.) But as it worked out because of the mice, my advice probably would have been scrape it off, anyway, where ever there is any evidence of mouse occupation. On frames where there is no sign of mouse, you can just air them out.

    You can snap the scraped-off plastic foundation out of the wooden frames, because the cleaning process will be different.

    The foundation, being plastic, can be scrubbed in hot-ish water, even washed with mild dishwashing soap, and rinsed in bleach water, then again in plain water to remove all traces of bleach and soap and then left to dry indoors. (Sun exposure can warp the plastic.)

    Do not let the hot water you washed the foundation in go down the drain - it will be carrying wax which can solidify in your pipes as it cools, creating a clog. I would do at least the first round of washing outdoors in a tub. If you decide that you need a little more cleaning-oomph and want to use dishwashing soap as a separate step after the first hot wash, it would be OK by then use your sink because the first wash will have floated off most of the wax.

    After the foundation is dry, I would then re-wax it with a layer of hand-applied beeswax to get the bees to start drawing them quickly. You'll need about a pound of beeswax to re-wax 15 medium foundations. Use a second-hand store crock pot to melt the wax, and a 3" foam paint brush to do the job. (Buy several extra brushes as they sometimes un-glue themselves in the hot wax.) I would do the re-waxing after reinstalling the foundation back into the frames for ease of handling the freshly-waxed foundation. Here's a link to instructions on re-waxing:

    The frames should be thoroughly scraped to remove wax and propolis, then scrubbed in hot water and a little bleach water, then rinsed in plain water and allowed to dry outdoors in the sun. Reinstall the foundation and then re-wax it.

    Beekeepers sometimes give spun-out supers back to the bees for a few days so they can clean out (and store) the last bits of honey. Then the supers with the frames are stored together, usually stacked so mice can't get in. Then the following spring when it's time to super up, the drawn comb is immediately available to be filled. Sometimes the early flow happens before the temps or the bees are quite ready for doing a lot of drawing. Having drawn supers makes it easier to manage swarming, too. Where there are issues of wax moth, some people use chemicals to keep them at bay. I am in northern NY and I can safely hold drawn comb in an unheated barn over the winter and let the Great Northern Winter suppress the moths. But I always take great care to keep mice out, stacking the boxes very carefully. And I inspect the stacks regularly all winter long to make sure they stay mouse free.

    Hope this is useful info.

    Last edited by enjambres; 05-16-2018 at 06:56 AM.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    Run down to the self serve car wash and spray them down.

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