Apiary Hygiene

Consider the welfare of your bees and your pocket!

Sorry to preach but you may get away with sloppy practices for years without any apparent hygiene issues but that is no reason to get into bad habits. (Good hygiene will probably get you more honey!!). Disease can spread very easily and it's probable that the beekeeper is the most significant source of cross-contamination. Best practice is to have container of bleach some washing soda and water and a brush and wash your hive tool and (disposable) gloves between each hive. A 25% bleach solution will sterilize and the addition of washing soda helps dislodge propolis. The brush can also be used to brush the smoker bellows where they are handled. With regularly discarded disposable gloves and clean clothes, the chances of cross-contamination is greatly reduced.

As responsible beekeepers we should take note of the following:-

  • Guard against robbing as this will spread disease. Feed in the evenings and don't leave syrup or old comb about. Keep the apiary tidy.
  • Monitor stocks closely for disease.
  • Sterilise old combs (Acetic [Ethanoic]Acid) against Nosema and wax moth in the winter. (You can fumigate or freeze against wax moth too).
  • Don’t swap comb from one hive to another (including supers) unless you have to and then ensure that you have disease free stocks.
  • Clean hive parts and utensils regularly. (bleach/washing soda/scorching).
  • Keep clothing (veil) and footwear clean.
  • Discard soiled gloves.
  • Replace old comb in the hive regularly.
  • Don’t take dirty items to another apiary – avoid cross-contamination.
  • If you go to someone else's apiary, ensure your bee-suit and footwear are clean and wear disposable gloves and leave them there! Ask that they do the same if they come to your apiary.
  • Don't feed shop-bought honey to bees.
  • Obtain or download the FERA disease books; read them and have them to hand for easy reference.
  • If you are worried about disease, call you bee inspector who will come over at no cost. Bee inspectors are a good source of information and advice.