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Second hand hives

Hello all
Would it be too risky to get used boxes (empty), bases, queen excluders etc, of an unknown former bee keeper? even tough they haven’t been used for a few years? How long diseases remain viable in the boxes? is there a suitable way to disinfect them?

I intend to prepare a few brood boxes and get ready to bring 2 or 3 nucs in the spring (September/October).
Any thoughts?
thank you

Hi Marcus, you should probably scorch that wooden ware to kill off any possible AFB spores - these can remain viable for 20 years. Other less formidable pests like wax moth cocoons should be easy to spot and scrape away. As I recall from previous posts on the topic, you should make sure your boxes are well aired out after a scorching event before putting a new colony in.

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I agree with Eva, I always scrape clean before scorching any second hand beekeeping gear. I have heard that AFB spores stay viable for up to 40 years. I found that colonies without brood will abscond from a freshly scorched box. They wont abscond if I include lots of brood. A little bit of lemongrass oil also helps in holding a colony to a freshly scorched box.


Hah and I’ve heard 70! Regardless, it’s long enough that we want to be certain not to have any around…


I think I like wood work more than just the idea of having AFB. Not worth the the risk in my first year…
Thank you all!!


Short term pain for long term gain…good move Marcusk!


Definitely the right decision to make Marcus. All the second hand stuff I scraped before scorching was given to me. I certainly wouldn’t be in the market for second hand stuff. One thing I do with all my boxes is treat with copper naphthenate. Hoop pine or radiata pine is susceptible to dry rot. Water has a habit of getting under paint & causing dry rot.


Thank you Jeff
Do I paint outside only or inside AND outside?


Hi Marcus, it’s up to you what you do. Personally after letting the copper naphthenate completely dry, I apply 2-3 coats of water base good quality house paint inside AND outside.

I mix the copper n. with about 80% turps, then let each side of a box soak for about 6 hours.

The beekeeping community is a bit divided on whether to paint the inside or not. You’ll have to make your own mind up on which way you want to go.

I feel that I have another 30 good years of beekeeping left in me, being only in my seventy fourth year. Therefore I want my gear to last the distance.


PS You need to try to avoid this from happening, if at all possible.

That’s a bit of a bummer, Jeff

That means I only have 30 years left to learn something about beekeeping then… You may be required to stay around a bit longer than that…

Thank you for your advice.

I may have to swap the box from the brood box and give it better treatment as only varnished it when I got it last spring. Any suggestions to do this swap other than being very careful with the queen? Is it best that I wait for the spring or do I do it soon?
Thanks again

You’re welcome Marcus. Just pick a warm dry day & put the frames back in the same order. Work from the rear of your hive & keep your smoker going to assist you in not squashing bees while placing frames etc,