Cleaning and Storage of Frames
Removing Excess Honey
It doesn’t matter how efficient the centrifuge is, there are always a few droplets of honey left behind. Place the wet frames wherever the bees can access them. You can put them back in the beehive, out in the apiary, or your yard. The bees will thoroughly dry and clean the frames, leaving them ready for storage.
Preventing Wax Moth Infestation
If some of the frames harvested once held brood, they can attract wax moths. You can often tell the previously occupied comb because it is darker than those that only had honey. Wax moths can cause significant damage to the frames and combs.
One way to protect your frames from wax moth infestation is to freeze them for at least 48 hours to kill any larvae or eggs. Alternatively, you can use PCB (Paradichlorobenzene), a chemical in crystal form that vaporizes and kills adult and larval wax moths. As usual, only use PCB as stated on the label.
Storing Frames Safely
After cleaning and drying the frames, place them in a well-ventilated storage area, stacked in supers to keep them organized. You may also use a protective cover to keep out dust and debris.
For those unable to refrigerate their frames, store them in a well-lit, airy shed. You can place the frames in supers on their side so that there’s constant airflow and exposure to light. Wax moths prefer to hang around dark corners.
Regularly inspect stored frames to ensure there are no signs of pests or other issues. If you notice any, address them promptly to avoid damage to your frames and supers.
Inspecting Supers for Damage
After extracting honey, check the supers for any damage. Inspect the woodenware for cracks, broken pieces, or signs of rot. Examine the frames for damage to the wires or foundation. Repair any damage promptly to maintain your hives’ integrity and help prevent pests or diseases from infiltrating.
First, remove any excess wax or propolis. Next, use a bee brush or a similar soft tool to clean off any lingering honey. You can then store each frame in a plastic bag, seal it, and freeze it for 48 hours if your freezer is big enough. This process will eliminate any wax moth larvae that may be present. If not, store them in a well-lit, well-ventilated area.
Store your supers in a cool, dry, and well-lit place to prevent mold, moisture damage, and insects. The frames should be well-ventilated and protected from pests such as wax moths, mice, and ants. However, some beekeepers will purposefully use fire ants as protection against other pests.
Beekeepers in areas that endure severe winters don’t need to freeze the frames or supers because nature provides the refrigeration. Even when the supers are stored in a dark garage, the cool temperatures will keep wax moths away.
When you leave out the frames and the supers for the bees to clean, you also reduce the insects that would be attracted to the honey, like sugar ants. The bees will make quick work of cleaning out any droplets of honey in just a few days, so don’t skip that step.
Reusing Frames and Supers
Reintroducing Frames to the Hive
The best frame and super protectors are bees. If you place supers in hives with healthy colonies for storage, the bees constantly patrol the super and keep pests away. The bees will clean any residual honey and prepare the frames for new nectar storage. Several sources, such as Honey Bee Suite and Geelong Beekeepers Club, recommend this technique. Returning the frames to the hive where they were removed helps maintain the hive’s organization.
Another approach to reusing supers is rotating them throughout the season. This process ensures that supers with older combs are gradually phased out and replaced with new ones. Super rotation helps beekeepers maintain healthy and productive hives by making efficient use of the bees’ comb-building efforts.
Regardless of the method chosen, the goal is to maintain the health and productivity of the hive while utilizing the extracted frames and supers in the most efficient way possible.
In dealing with frames and supers after extracting honey, it’s crucial to follow proper methods to ensure the equipment remains clean and safe for future use.
It’s also important to store honey supers safely. Ideally in a well-lit, ventilated, cool, dry location away from pests.
By following these guidelines and consistently applying proper techniques, beekeepers can ensure the long-term health of their hives and optimize honey production.