Help cleaning wax from flow hive

Webclan thanks for the confirmation. I will still give them a basic clean up but that saves me heaps of work. I am located in north Lismore so the hive could be located in any yard or paddock around me. I don’t think I would find it.
I suspect that due to all the rain associated with cyclone deb a lot of the pollen had been washed from flowers plus the flood covering many of the gardens around me I would say either my bees went and robbed a dirty hive or a dirty bee came and robbed mine as the hive was nice and healthy when checked in February.

I was told that spreading lime around that ground below your hive helps prevent AFB (this was from an beekeeper who had over 1000 hives in his care in Israel) which I am going to do but not sure how this would help as the spores are carried on the bees (mainly the “nurse” bees) but anything is worth a try to help combat getting it again.

I suppose anything is worth a try. Not sure if the bees get affected if they fall into the lime. You are right, AFB doesn’t come crawling on the ground and if it prevents robbing, no idea.
Did you find a lot of cells with ropy gunk and were your bees already diminishing? It’s so good you have a mentor who helps you.
You know, even if you got your bees only in Feb, it’s quite possible they already had it. Actually, thinking about it, it’s quite likely. That’s why it is recommended to quarantine a new nuc for 3 months and then give them a thorough inspection before introducing them to your apiary. I only just learned this recently. Just have to find out now how to quarantine, if it means keeping them a certain distance away.
The floods we had sure didn’t help. There must have been a number of drowned and displaced colonies that looked to survive and teamed up with other bees and go robbing and looting and squatting. Lol, like some people.
If this is your first hive, man, what an introduction you had. I wholeheartedly wish you all the best for your new start.

It is true. My understanding is that Steritech are also very helpful, so you can call customer service to confirm with the experts. However, with the kind of radiation that they use, the frames would have to be encased in thick lead for it not to work. :wink:

Sorry for your loss, and thank you for helping us all to learn.

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Webclan I got my queen and brood back at the start of october from a proper queen breader. I have the hive checked in February and found the hive to be strong and disease free. Yes my mentor found numerous ropey cells. This is not my first hive but first flow hive. My late father used to look after my standard 2 hives but when he passed away I didnt have the equipment to continue on my own so gave the hives to another bee keeper to look after them but when the flow hive came out I had to get one and hive bees in my yard again.
Thanks for all your help and comments.


Just one more thought, @woolly69. Our forum has a very experienced, full-time beekeeper some way north of you in Queensland. From his previous posts, I know that he has some tricks for dealing with AFB. It might be worth sending him a message (@JeffH), because he might have some very helpful ideas for when you set up again. I know that in the past he has suggested discussing them by phone - typing it all out is a lot of work for a busy guy! :blush: I know you have a mentor already, but you never know what clever tricks Jeff might have from his years of experience.

Plus I know from experience, he is not the sort of bloke to judge you. He is constructive and helpful. :wink:


You should also notify all other beekeepers with 5 miles (8km) so they can monitor their hives. If there is a beekeeper out there harboring AFB and your new bees rob that hive you’re back to square one. The Flow Hives can only handle a couple irradiation treatments before coming brittle.

Good luck with this and thanks for posting.

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Sorry to hear about your colony, I hope I never have to deal with AFB, not sure I could start from scratch again. I forgive you for being such a prick in your 2nd and 3rd posts… You see, being open and honest helps all of us advise and be advised on what to do in certain circumstances. There’s a good crew here with great advice, experience and quick wit but sharp tongues aren’t received well…
Please share your journey with us for everyone’s benefit.

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Hi Woolly,

Sorry to hear about your hive, and the effect of the flood. Tough times all around for a lot of friends and family in Lismore and the North Rivers. :rainbow:

Here is the faq on irradiation:

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 Frames with multiple doses of 15kGy gamma rays. We found that 1 dose had minimal effect while 2 doses made the plastic significantly more brittle. We have also discovered that some Irradiation facilities use beehives as ‘Gap Filler’ in larger loads. This means a single round may expose your frames to more than 40 kGy.
What you should do when treating with irradiation:

Flow frames should only be exposed to a single dose of 15 kGy irradiation. If you need to send your Flow frames for irradiation please mark them clearly for future reference. In addition, you should contact the irradiation facility and explain that due to the plastic in your frames you require a dose as close to 15 kGy as possible. Discuss this with them and clearly label your package before sending.

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Hi Faroe, interesting about chemical testing. In Tasmania there is AFB but as far as I know, no irradiation available here, leaving chemical treatment the only option to save the flow frames for anyone affected. I’m guessing flow will be testing chemicals that would be used in Tasmania to treat flow frames in case of AFB? Thanks.

Hi Dan,

I’m sorry, I don’t know about irradiation treatments in Tasmania. So I just did a quick search and found this on the website :

You must be able to use irradiation there. So, maybe you can find someone through that website, or by contacting them directly. I haven’t heard any more about chemical treatments for the Flow Frames. I will follow-up now for you, and hopefully hear back soon.

I found it with this search


Health requirements

All bees, bee products, bee collected pollen, used hive components and beekeeping equipment must be from hives free of Notifiable diseases. All bees, bee products, pollen and used beekeeping fittings must not be from a quarantine property/area or an area subject to restrictions on movements imposed by other jurisdictions.

Pollen used for feeding to bees must be irradiated to a minimum of 15 kilograys prior to entry or immediately after introduction.

In addition to the above, see below for conditions related to specific diseases or jursidictions.

American Foul Brood disease (AFB)

Bees (including queen cells, queen bees, escorts and packaged bees), bee products, pollen or used beekeeping fittings must only be from AFB free apiaries. The following form must be completed –

Introduction of Bees, Livestock Products of Bees or Apiary Fittings into Victoria (No inspection is required) [MS Word Document - 23.2 KB]

Notwithstanding the above, subject to required labelling and treatment, honey, beeswax or pollen extracted from, or used beekeeping fittings from, hives affected by AFB may be introduced. Honey and beeswax must be sent directly to a processing plant, whilst pollen and apiary fittings must be irradiated with gamma irradiation at an approved plant. The following form must be completed –

Introduction of Apiary Fittings or Extracted Honey from an Apiary Affected with American Foul Brood into Victoria [MS Word Document - 23.1 KB] (Schedule 7) No inspection required


No bees, pollen or used hives and other used beekeeping fittings may be introduced into Victoria from Tasmania.

Comb honey may be introduced providing that before the comb is introduced, the comb is frozen to minus 15 degrees centigrade for 24 hours, it is stored and transported in bee-free containers and vehicles, it is cut and packed in a bee free area and no other comb honey was on the premises whilst it was being processed. The above relevant form must accompany the comb honey, as well as data temperature logs endorsed by a government apiary officer.

Hi Faroe. Thanks for the link to the Victorian site but I’m confused because it says that no used bee equipment from Tassie can be sent there. It must be talking about AFB hives etc. from mainland States? Perhaps it is because of Braula fly; on their website it says, " Introduction of bees, queen bees, bee colonies, bee-collected pollen, and used hives, used hive components and fittings from Tasmania is not permitted due to the presence of Braula fly (Bee louse) in that State. Comb honey may be introduced, but special prior treatment and certification applies to introductions of this product".

Thankfully I don’t have American Foulbrood, although it is present in Tasmania. I have thought for a while that Flow might need to amend its advice regarding Flow frame treatment in the case of American Foulbrood given it seems irradiation is not available here. It seems that there is the assumption by Flow that it is generally available.

There is a document on the internet called, “Tasmanian Foulbrood - Best Management Practice Guideline”, and it does say that the irradiation option is not currently available to beekeepers in Tasmania. I can’t attach a link to that sorry. I would encourage Flow to read this document and investigate the issue in Tassie further. It seems from this April 2016 document that in cases where the disease is not advanced, sodium hypochlorite solution can be used. They go on to say that, “some plastics can degrade when in contact with sodium hypochlorite solution”. I pricked up my ears when you reported that the flow frame plastics, “have shown good chemical resistance… and that you will be testing various chemicals to evaluate this soon”.
Delving into the DPIPWE website on Animal Health and bees directly it does not mention sodium hypochlorite unfortunately, so I confess I am somewhat confused. I guess I could phone the Apiary officer and ask…

It is even trickier than all of this as once the hives have been in Victoria (presuming for a minute we could legally get them there), we might not be able to bring them back because we have our own quarantine restrictions. Tasmania is worried for instance about SHB as we don’t have that here, but it is in Victoria I believe.


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Hi Faroe and interested others, particularly in Tasmania.
I have spoken to the helpful Apiary officer here this morning. Below is my take on it but please do your own research.

In relation to Flow frames from American Foul Brood diseased hives -

  1. There is no irradiation treatment available for Flow frames (or other frames) in Tasmania.

  2. It is illegal to send used Flow frames (or other frames) from Tasmania to Victoria for irradiation because Tasmania has Braula fly, but Victoria and the mainland do not. They don’t want our Braula fly - understandably.

  3. It is illegal to bring used Flow frames (or other frames) into Tasmania from the mainland because Tasmanian does not want the Small Hive Beetle here - understandably. Even treated frames sitting around waiting to come back into Tasmania fit this category of course.

That means at present there is no irradiation available for Tasmanian Flow owners so the question of brittleness and radiation dose is actually irrelevant here.

However, in Tasmania, if the AFB is not advanced, sodium hypochlorite is an approved treatment here and could potentially be used on the flow frames. I was advised that the wax needs to be removed for proper treatment which interestingly takes us back to the question posed at the beginning of this topic by Woolly!
The question for Flow is probably whether or not the chemical damages the plastic, (given that steam treatment and hot wax is not an option, because of the plastic being damaged by that much heat).
It would be great if there could be some testing as to that by Flow, if it hasn’t been done already. If any Flow owner in Tasmania gets AFB, we will need to know if the frames can be treated with the chemical without damage. Further, perhaps an amendment could be considered to the Flow pamphlet on this issue, noting the special case of Tasmania (Flow Frame Instruction Manual -page 11).


Sodium hypochlorite is the active component in household chlorine bleach. I can’t see that simple bleach would damage the Flow frames, but it would be interesting to hear thoughts from the Flow team.

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Hi Dawn - yes, hopefully not. Tasmanian Flow hivers would then have an option in the case of AFB, but in the document, “The Tasmanian Foulbrood
Best Management Practice Guideline” it does say that some plastic, metals and leather can degrade when in contact with the solution. As you know it only kills what it comes in contact with, so that is why all the wax has to come off.

I wonder if you could mail the flow frames to the Sydney irradiation place?

Unfortunately no - NSW wouldn’t want our Braula fly and you can’t legally bring used bee frames back into Tasmania because we don’t want the Small Hive Beetle. Apparently an irradiation facility here would cost 20 million.

Is there a safe method to kill braula fly on your frames? Getting them back to Tasmania shouldn’t be a problem, as irradiated frames are as new frames, even cleaner. Did you call the irradiation place in Sydney?
No, we sure don’t want braula fly in addition to everything else.

Thanks Webclan for the advice,

Yes - irradiation would kill them I reckon!

In one of my older Tasmanian books it says how the queen is often the most badly affected by Braula louse - the louse preferring queens. It goes on to say that you can use tweezers to pull the louse off and you can hold the queen over cigarette smoke and then blow the cigarette smoke into the hive. I’m not kidding…

I haven’t called Sydney. The issue is one of law. We can’t legally send used frames out of Tasmania. The Braula pest is not present anywhere on the Mainland to my knowledge.

Further, even if it were possible to legally send used frames to the Mainland, no one can legally send such frames from the Mainland into Tasmania under our Tasmanian law. At all stages of a frame being on the Mainland it would be classed as a used frame. I guess the rationale would be that even once it has been irradiated and before is is possibly repackaged, the SHB may go for it, or when it might be inspected in a postal warehouse in Sydney or somewhere else on its way back, or perhaps if it gets lost for a few days somewhere, or even the possible intrusion of the beetle in a split package during transit or handling across the country etc.

I am amazed at how these pests get transferred around the globe. The industry here has had meetings about the issue of irradiation- they have been working with DPIPWE and others like the fruit growers and Steritech to discuss irradiation possibilities here, but the problems are principally cost, scale and risk and at the moment we are left with burning, or, if the disease is not advanced, other approved treatments - just not irradiation. We are a small island population wise. There is one thing for sure from my discussion with the Apiary officer, we don’t want SHB and I can imagine any breaches of our laws would be prosecuted vigourously. Nothing to do with bees, but Fruit fly is the other thing we don’t have here and our Fruit Fly free status is incredibly important to the State.

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Sorry about that, I did a search with -
irradiation for bee hives tasmania

I got the link which I posted. I missed that it was Victoria not Tasmania sorry…

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Hi Faroe - not problem at all. I completely understand. At some stage if there is any info. from your testers about sodium hypochlorite on the Flow plastic it would be great. There is no rush at all, and from my conversation with the Apiary Officer it seems no-one in Tasmania with Flow frames has yet had AFB, so it is a pre-emptive advice matter at the moment.