Saffron Walden Beekeepers - Blogs

News about some of our events.

Sat 11th September 2021


Garden Meeting - General equipment cleaning, hygiene and storing - Deryck Johnson, Wimbish.

Deryck Johnson in his beautiful garden.

We enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon in Deryck and Fran’s lovely garden on Saturday.

Despite the long diversion caused by the “road closure” signs (the road wasn’t closed!) some of us did get there.

The weather was perfect, the sun shone, and the birds and dragonflies zoomed around us whilst Deryck took us through cleaning and storing equipment over winter. The equipment Deryck had on display attracted a fair few curious bees and wasps but they didn’t put Deryck off his stride.

Cleaning your hive equipment and tools is extremely important in the fight against wax moths and diseases. Storing them safely over winter can be a challenge; but following Deryck’s suggestions will certainly help to make it easier.

As hive parts come back to the bee shed from the apiary in Autumn, they must be scraped, thoroughly scrubbed with washing soda, dried, and gently scorched with a blow torch before storage. This process removes wax, propolis, wax moth larvae and any disease pathogens. We should take the opportunity to check for any damage or maintenance required at the same time.

Deryck stores his brood boxes (with frames) in a stack. Foam pads soaked in 80% acetic acid are used in between the layers to kill any wax moths lurking. It’s a good idea to gaffer tape the joints between boxes to keep the fumes in. It’s worth noting that acetic acid is nasty stuff! Always wear a chemical mask and gloves when using and apply it outdoors. One day, I’ll tell you what happened to my fingertips last year when I got some on my hands! As well as skin, the acid will also eat its way through concrete and metal, so be careful what you stand your stack on! No wonder wax moths don’t like it.

Deryck also talked about storing super frames. Once the honey has been extracted, they are “wet” frames. The frames should be put back into the hives they come from for the bees to clean them off. They can them be removed as “dry” frames and stored in a stack over winter. If frames are stored “wet” they can go mouldy which will be a very unpleasant surprise next Spring!

We were very pleased to see Fran laying out a lovely display of homemade cakes! She has a reputation for being a good baker. The plum, rosemary and almond cake was just wonderful! The fruit cake and the scones looked wonderful too, although I did manage to stop at just one piece of plum cake. This is a very important part of any bee meeting. I remember as a new beekeeper looking forward to chatting over tea and cake to the more experienced ones and asking those questions that I was afraid to ask in front of the wider group.

Many thanks to Deryck and Fran for their hospitality, it’s always a treat to go to their garden. We all learned a lot on Saturday, everyday is a school day in beekeeping!

Lizzie Beard 14/9/2021

Fran's amazing Plum, rosemary and almond cake.