Sterilisation of plastic hives is approved by FERA

by Robin Dartington

A commonly heard objection to Omlet’s new plastic version of the long-deephive, the ‘beehaus’, was that it would have to be destroyed if infected with foul brood as the plastic could not be flamed. The same objection has been made to tiered hives made of polystyrene, even though those have taken over the European market. The re-issue by FERA of the procedures if foulbrood is found has confirmed that hives and accessories can in fact be sterilized with disinfectants:

Brood boxes, supers, queen excluders and other bee-keeping equipment, which has been thoroughly cleaned of all waxand propolis, can be effectively sterilized by using commercialdisinfectants (e.g. bleach, Virkon S and others). It is important that the manufacturer’s instructions are complied with.

Comb should still be burnt. Sterilization would seem to apply also to plywood hives that have been painted internally. Painting reduces the amount of propolis the bees feel is needed to create a sterile nest, and makes it easy to clean of wax and propolis by scrubbing with washing soda in hot water – some of the advantages you get from plastic. It is however only safe to paint hives internally if they have permanent mesh floors to avoid condensation.

The document can be read or saved from screen - see page 30 (page 34 of the pdf) of ‘Foul Brood Disease of Honeybees and Other Common Disorders’, FERA2009 at

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