Part of the winter beekeeping work is rehabbing equipment for the next season. I wanted to share the details for those who may inherit or have to reuse their previous year’s equipment.
The purchasing of pre-owned equipment is often tricky because beekeepers are wary of stuff that they do not have knowledge of because it may have been infected by American Foulbrood or other diseases that may have caused the colony to collapse.
My thought in documenting this process was to better inform potential beekeepers of some of the steps of maintenance in the offseason. Thus, the preparing boxes for reuse is a key task because if you have bees that die of other causes you can still reuse the equipment if you take right precautions and these steps also help you to preserve your equipment investment.
These are boxes that I purchased earlier this fall from a fellow beekeeper that had some damage due to wax moth damage. In order to reuse these boxes, I had to scrape and clean them outside. Lucky, I did this work before the super cold snap (in Nov/Dec 2017), and I used some straightforward tools that I got from the $1 store (note: small and large paint scrapers). I also used the hose at high pressure to blast of the last cocoons. Once the boxes were dry, I brought them indoors and with the help of Katie S, we started the next phase.
It is recommended to burn the leftover wax and inside corners of the boxes, thus removing all of the yucky remnants. For safety, we had a fire extinguisher on hand and since I am walking accident, I left the blowtorch work to Katie. She also used a small tool to clean out the top crevices of the boxes as well.
Finally, painting the outside of the boxes with two coats of outdoor high gloss paint gave the boxes a new life. The boxes will be airing out for the winter so that there is plenty of time for any fumes to dissipate. The painted boxes will weather longer and hold up to the elements much better than untreated wood.
Note: That it is less expensive to buy unpainted equipment and do it yourself if you are purchasing a large number of boxes. There are often deals on bulk boxes and new bee equipment but, if you are buying a single hive, the price difference is slight. I suggest that you go ahead and pay the extra $5-7 for painted boxes, it is worth the money and time.
In future posts, I will share the artistic transformation of these boxes. I will also share the assembly process of the many new boxes that I purchased this summer.