Question about contaminated comb

I’m curious. Has anyone had contaminated comb inside a flow hive? If so, is there a way to get it out, or does the unit have to be replaced? I’m in Florida USA, so will be dealing with a lot of humidity, etc.

Contaminated in what way? Disease? Pesticides? There are many things that could potentially cause you to discard comb, whole frames, or even the entire hive (ie American foul brood).

My question is two-fold - have experienced bee keepers found comb becomes more or less contaminated than in traditional hives? Also, can comb be removed from flow hives, or do they have to be replaced? I’m new at this.

I’ll echo adagna and ask, contaminated, in what way.
I can’t speak for flow frames but traditional super frames do get “dirty” in the way of propolis and bee footprints but the cells are pristine, the bees wouldn’t fill them otherwise. Super frames are used till they disintegrate.
Bees will dot super frames with pollen, sometimes this is a sign that they need more room.
Pollen can’t be spun out and will mould outside of the hive but it can be washed out.
I don’t know if bees fill flow frames with pollen…perhaps somebody from Flow can tell us

@bethvansteen some wax foundation bought from suppliers can be contaminated with residues of pesticides and possible pathogens - the companies buy back old and used wax in exchange of new wax foundation.

I have come to the conclusion I don’t want to take the chance and will use very small starter strips and let my bees build their own comb.

Flow frames can be irradiated - using ultraviolet irradiation or gamma rays - sterilised by gamma rays from a radioisotope of cobalt. This will kill infective organisms without damaging the equipment.

If you suspect any comb or equipment is contaminated you must seek advice form you local bee club - certainly not use any tools. equipment, boxes or comb that is contaminated even suspected of being contaminated or been within the vicinity of suspect hives

Not sure what types of contamination you might be referring to. But the Flow Frames can be easily disassembled and thoroughly cleaned and then reassembled. I haven’t had to do that through my first season but I had to modify the length of the frames which required disassembly and reassembly.

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If the flow frames get ‘contaminated’ they can be disassembled and cleaned and sanitized and reassembled. Hot water up to 140°, soap and bleach would handle pretty much anything you might be worried about. A stay in the freezer could be used for wax moth.

American Foul Brood is a tough one; if that is a concern then the parts must be clean of all organic material and soaked in a 6% bleach solution. Bleach is not considered an effective treatment of traditional wooden equipment because of the intrinsic difficulty of removing all organic material from an organic surface. You just can’t do it. For woodware scorching is the approved method. Which would obviously be a no go for the plastic material the flow is constructed from.

Irradiation is the most effective of eradicating AFB, EFB and Chalkbrood spores, I think these diseases are probably beekeeper enemy no.1 for comb contamination. If you think your comb is contaminated then get rid of it and replace with new frames and/or foundation.

I for one am a fan of, as @sara says, “scorching woodware”: with a HOT, blue flame.

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Yep, that’s what I do. I have mixed poly and wood boxes. I love the poly but they are a real B****r
to clean in a domestic kitchen!!!

Hi Dee, I only have one plastic hive, the rest are wood. The plastic box was part of a heap of stuff that was given to me 4 & a half years ago, a victim of SHB. He just wanted everything gone the day he rang. Naturally I obliged him. Would you believe the plastic super took a decent scorching?, I was surprised. We made 2 videos of the event, not real clear videos, but you get the general idea.

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OMG, Jeff

I have a thing about maggots too…

Does anyone know what the safe time/temp combination is? For example could equipment be kept at 300 degrees or 400 degrees for a certain amount of time and be as effective as scorching? Seems like this would be a better option if it works since you could leave it long enough for the heat to penetrate to the center of the wood components, so not just the surface would be sanitized.

Size of boxes compared to ovens would make this a little cumbersome to do, but I’m just curious.

Hi Dee, would you believe that bloke phoned me 12 months earlier to ask me what I do about SHB, I explained my “no trap” strategy. Which really isn’t all that complicated. Then on the morning of us making this video, he offered me all this stuff. It was 3 long days cleaning all the frames out to get all that wax. Then a year later he offered me his 16 frame extractor for free. he was doing a big clean out. I had to knock him back on the extractor, it was too big for me. He found more good boxes plus boxes that weren’t even assembled, more equipment, a steam knife, good smoker, a hive tool. I took him over a big heap of honey for all that.

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Hi Adam, I really should show the forum my scorching technique. It’s the burner for a crab cooker which throws out a ferocious blue flame. I use it to make sinkers plus scorching bee boxes & frames.


Comb, especially in the supers where people eat from, should be changed out every 2-3 years imo. It gets pretty nasty.

Two year old wax

New wax

That top frame has been brooded in though and is uncapped.
The bottom frame you are showing is capped with lovely white cappings.
I have six year honey frames that are clean and light and still usable.

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Hi @Dee, Hi @adagna, here is my scorching video, cheers


Regardless of what it is used for, I prefer changing out the wax that I’m going to eat out of every few years. Just my personal preference. It’s like eating off of dirty dishes to me lol.

I agree.
If my honey frames looked like your top one I would be doing the same

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