Honeyflow.com | FAQ's | Community |

Good Hygiene Habits and Bee Husbandry - Need to know


I notice there are bad habits that are often passed down from bee Keeper to bee Keeper.
To help New Beeks here is a beginners list of good bee keeping and husbandry - you may have different rules in your area so when you join your local association these are the sorts of things you need to find out about.

For instance:
If you wash your bee suit regularly, pheromones from the hive will be washed away - particularly if there are guard bee sting pheromones on your suit. You may not always know they have tried to sting the suit, but the pheromones will linger and attract unwanted attention.

Washing hive tools:
Between different apiary’s help stop infection and transfer of pathogens - you can’t see the pathogens so if one hive is weak - you could be doing them a disservice by introducing unwittingly, pathogens which in a strong hive have been naturally contained. Just as a strong hive will corral SHB the weaker hive will succumb and be overridden with beetles.

Personal hygiene:
Honey is a food product so all honey from you hives should be clean and safe to eat; if there is a problem in the hive this honey should not be used but discarded; if the bees wont eat it it is not safe for us either.

New Bee Keepers:
Are recommended to attend suitable course to help learn and understand Good Bee Husbandry, you would not run a cattle or sheep ranch without understanding your veterinary requirements or how to heal and care for your stock; bees are just 6 legged Honey providers and the Super’s are our milking machines. Can you milk a cow hygienically? You need to thing of honey and hive products in the same manner.

If you extract your own Honey:
Then you need to understand basic Food Hygiene Practice - in the UK we have hygiene certificates for all food service industry workers; good personal hygiene is a must and understaning about Cross Contamination

The British Beekeepers Association: Apiary Hygiene

The Bee Keeping General Husbandry: you don’t have to do exams to be a good Bee Keeper, but understanding the principles of Bee Husbandry is a must!!

Bee Keeping records:
It is necessary for some informations to be accessible when you want to sell your honey. People like to know what they are buying; in the UK there are set requirements that need to be on the labelling; Also you need to keep hive records to show what you observed each time you open the hives. You service your can and insure it - think of this as your MOT for producing good clean honey.




This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


Stubsy - I’m a Chef - we always try to push the hygiene thing - you would not eat in a toilet, why would you buy honey from someone who is not hygienic in their practices


And the bees deserve the best, why should bee suffer if people are not aware something is bad practice - at least you agree peep need to go to local bee groups - after all you do run one


If you are selling direct to a consumer labelling regulations are pretty non existent, you’re right, especially at the door.
You don’t need hygiene certificates either. Common sense is usually enough.
Hobbyists tend to have their heads screwed on most days :smile:

Some people like to sit exams and have lots of qualifications, that’s OK but it doesn’t make them good beekeepers. Some university Apiculture professors (ring a bell?) would have us open the hive mid-winter to pull out brood and trickle oxalic acid!

Not here in the UK
The only thing you need to record is any hive treatments
And don’t let the BBKA talk you into putting matchsticks under the crown board :wink:


Never heard that one?


Obviously food needs to be treated as food, meaning it must be kept meticulously clean. But I’ve never cleaned a hive tool unless the propolis was in my way. I challenge anyone to prove that any disease was ever spread by a hive tool. I wash my bees jackets and suits when I can’t stand the smell anymore. They will be soaked in sweat on any hot day of beekeeping and washing them with everyone elses clothes can lead to the family becoming allergic to bee venom. So I wash them as seldom as I can stand…


Thanks for that info Michael. Given that I wash our bee clothing (regularly) with my kids clothing do you have any more info or could you point me in the direction to finding out more? Thanks.


Hi @Jasbee, I’m one of those that gets his suit washed only when it’s absolutely needed. I find the material the suits are made of seem to deteriorate quickly with too much washing. @Michael_Bush, I think if we were going to be worried about hive tools spreading disease, we should have a separate hive tool for each hive. On the issue of a weak hive: I would find out why it’s weak & get to & fix it up asap.


Having worked in Catering for over 20 years I can assure you some people have absolutely no idea.

Actually This is best Practice - At my local Apiary I attend all the tools are washed In Soda Crystals every week after the evenings investigations.

Hives in the same apiary are bound to share a certain amount of Pathogens.

Having watched how commercial outfits harvest Honey it’s a wonder there are any healthy bees left in some places.

@Michael_Bush - I’ve never heard of Venom being transferred - I do wash my Overalls in Eucalyptus Oil. As well as taking away the Pheromones smell, it is antiseptic. I generally wash it on it’s own or with my own White Clothes - My Hubby uses different wash powder to me and I don’t like “pink” or “grey” tinted whites.

This makes an interesting read: This study was in the early stages so they may still be working on it

Any bee Keeper worth their salt would do this. What I’m saying is, if practices are not hygienic, then the pathogens from a Strong Hive that can deal with the problem, may be passed to another hive which can potentially cause a problem


thanks Jeff.
I should have clarified that we don’t wear specific bee suits so the clothing (jeans / long sleeve white shirts) that we wear while inspecting go in our normal wash which includes my young kids clothing therefor this

concerns me and any further info would be greatfuly received.


Hi @Jasbee, no need for any concern, I’m at my bees nearly every day, sometimes for 2+ hours, morning & afternoon. My bee suit gets pretty grubby, probably like Michael’s:) by the time it get washed. It gets a good soaking before washing separately. If I was you, I’d keep on doing what your doing. I hope all is well with you & your bees, cheers.


Whatever else you do with your suit you should keep it away from non beekeeping family members. Ie those who don’t get stung. There is evidence that low dose venom transfer can occur over time causing anaphylaxis when such a person does eventually get stung


I would love to read any papers on this, intriguing


Away from home at present but I’ll see what I can dig up when I get back


Try this for anecdotal evidence

Mike Palmer explains it from first hand experience

And here


Yes, the link above to Mike Palmer’s experience is useful. Probably the best is just to hang it on the line and hose it off… or at least wash it in it’s own load and not with other people’s clothes.


The only thing I do to my hive tool is poke it in the hot coals in my smoker from time to time to melt off the wax and propolis and any hive beetle guts.
For honey sales more customers than not want honey stored in glass and no plastic so I have a lot of hives set up with no plastic foundation in the honey supers.

Speaking of good hygiene:
The Flow Frames advertise BPA free. What chemical was used in place of BPA when making the frames?


Thanks everyone. So in summary from reading that thread the problem is probably due to inconsistent exposure to low levels of bee protein. This bee protein has the potential to be on beek equipment including clothing and be transfer onto other clothing during washing and in turn be absorbed/ingested by the non beekeeping family member?