Flow™ Frame Sterilisation / Irradiation / Disease Control

Some diseases require sterilising your beehives to properly control the disease. We have recently got some tests back from irradiating the Flow™ Frames and thought I’d share them here:

Heat treatment: Flow frames can handle hot water up to 70˚c

Chemical treatment: The plastics chosen have good chemical resistance. We will be testing various chemicals to evaluate this soon.

Irradiation: We have tested the Flow frame parts with multiple doses of 15kgy Gamma rays. We load tested the irradiated parts and tested them to destruction. The results were: 1 dose had little effect. 2 doses had minimal effect. 3 doses and the plastic was significantly more brittle. We will be testing further to see if this causes any failures but at this stage we can say the Flow frames can handle being sterilised with 15kgy gamma twice.

We will aim to keep our website and forum updated with the latest test results.

For more info on disease @Rodderick has given a good summary.


Where did you manage to get the frames irradiated?? It must be a usable for “the man on the street” - does it cost big bucks??

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costs about $15 a super where I am so its not that expensive when you have multiple frames per super.

There are companies that sterilise medical equipment etc - they usually do some agriculture equipment such as bee hives…


The Bunyip Beekeeper


For the US that is 158° Fahrenheit


I think it was somewhere in Brisbane where they irradiated the Flow frames. I think @TBB is about right on the cost. Hopefully it is something that you will never need to do, but it is cheaper than buying new frames.

Most likely at Steritech

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You seem to be referring to how the equipment holds up to various methods of sterilization. Do you have any thoughts about UV light as a method of sterilizing a hive?

Water boils at 100C/212F. So, no hot water or steam to clean.

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I’m guessing UV light wouldn’t be enough to treat a lot of diseases, as most of the problematic diseases have persistent spores that get into timber and plastic in the hive. (although I’ve heard a UV light torch can be used to aid detecting AFB). By the sounds of it American Foul Brood (AFB) is a difficult one to treat with the recommended treatment being burning your hives. If you suspect you have AFB it is important to take it seriously as it could destroy all of your bee colonies and others around you.

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Since freezing can be used sterilize against some maladies, what is the lowest temperature the flow frames can safely endure. Also, do the materials it is made form deteriorate from repeated freeze/thaw cycles? (Not all plastics are freeze safe).

We have been discussing this in this thread:

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I work for Steritech in Melbourne and have been contacted by one of your customers regarding Irradiation of his flowhive, I explained to him the effects of Gamma on various polymers ( ie embrittlement and discoloration ) as Gamma dose is accumulative. I have many beekeepers that proactively irradiate every year their hives, these people have the conventional timber hives and the accumulative effect does not impact them, I have beekeepers whose hives have probably accumulated hundreds of kgy`s over the life of the hive . have you looked at using a GAMMA STABLE polymer in your manufacturing process ? this would certainly help in the lifespan of a hive in regards to the treatment using Gamma Irradiation . I understand there would be a cost impact but in the long run the purchasers would have the hive for a longer time.

I am available to you if you wish to contact me direct : Ray Bryden ( Gamma Irradiation Supervisor/Sales Exec Dandenong) Mob : 0409229247 or rbryden@steritech.com.au


Sounds like this is something for @Faroe and @Cedar to think about within the Flow company. :blush:

Would it be ineffective to simply disassemble the frame and put it in a dishwasher?

It wouldn’t eliminate AFB. For anything else, a good scrub in warm bleach water may be enough. I recall that @Dawn_SD mentioned before she wouldn’t take the risk putting the flow frame bits into the dishwasher, due to unknown heat factors during drying and such. I tend to agree. A good dish brush would do the job you are after. But note: it’s not enough to eliminate AFB spores.

Does anyone know if sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) damages the plastic in Flow frames?

@Faroe @Cedar , can you clarify regarding NaClO?

On this link https://www.honeyflow.com/faqs/flow-frame-sterilisation-irradiation-disease-control/p/145 all it says is:

Chemical treatment: The plastics chosen have good chemical resistance. We will be testing various chemicals to evaluate this soon.

…and it seemingly hasn’t been updated in almost a year.


Hi Alan,
Please see this thread as well:

We have not tested the flow frames with bleach but we do not foresee any problems.
It is likely you will have to disassemble the frames in order to clean them. You will need to remove the wax from the frames (this in itself is not a simple task). Then bleach according to the following guidelines

"Therefore, properly cleaned hives and appliances to be treated must be immersed in fresh solution of sodium hypochlorite (in water) applied at concentrations of at least 0.5% for 30 minutes. This solution can be made by mixing at least one part bleach (3% concentration) to five parts water (refreshed every day)."
You should also add bleach to any water that is used to clean the frames in order to destroy the spores.

Hi there
Where I live we have different kinds of bee diseases but our main concern are Varroa mides. We kill the mides by treating the entire hive in August / September at least twice with ant acid 85%.
The bees don’t mind as it’s a natural part of their body but the mides die.

Make sure it doesn’t go in the honey, so this we do always after taking away the last honey of the year.

After this we clean our frames and de-wax them with steam. This applies to normal frames - but I would like to know if we can use steam to clean flow-hive frames also?

Is this possible?

Otherwise cleaning is very difficult or unnatural (don’t like chemicals).

Thank you

As long as you don’t let the queen lay in the Flow frames, you really don’t need to clean them vigorously. The bees will keep the cells very clean, and you can simply rinse out the harvesting channel with warm water. If you freeze the frames for 48 hours at the end of the season, that will kill off any wax moth eggs etc, and you can then store them over winter in a cool dark place.

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is there a video that shows how to take apart the flow hive frames so they can be cleaned and soaked in bleach/water bath? thanks