By Paul Kelly
As extracting season approaches I thought a few tips on washing equipment and the extracting room might be helpful for newer beekeepers.
Most beekeepers wipe down the exterior surfaces of equipment daily and wash the interior surfaces at the end of the extraction season. Fortunately honey dissolves in water and no soaps or cleaners are required for extracting equipment. They should in fact be avoided so that residues don’t contaminate your honey. Use warm, not hot or cold water. Cold water won’t dissolve honey quickly; hot water melts beeswax and permanently bonds it to surfaces. Use plenty of water and give it time to dissolve the honey; wax cappings will then rinse off easily. Propolis can be removed by scraping with a plastic scraper or your thumbnail. Avoid using your hive tool for scraping, as it will scratch stainless steel.
Try to limit the number of bees brought into your extracting area. They are not only a nuisance but also a hygienic risk as they spot surfaces with bee feces. If possible, provide a window mounted bee escape in your extracting area so unwanted bees can exit. Bee feces can be difficult to remove. Wet the affected surfaces and keep them damp for some time to soften the spots; they will then scrape or scrub off readily. A long handled wall brush works great on wall surfaces.
Washing and scraping the floor surfaces daily after extracting is well worth the effort. A perforated rubber floor matt at your workstation prevents wax debris from being compacted to the floor and reduces the risk of slip injuries.
We are in a sticky business! A bit of effort keeping things clean makes your work environment hygienic and more pleasant.
Originally Published in the Ontario Bee Journal