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You need to store beehive boxes properly so that they are usable when you later need them. This article guides you on how to store honey supers when you remove them from the beehive. Space management in the beehive is necessary to ensure bees only have the space they need and can secure.
During beehive treatment, during extraction and in winter, the size of the beehive stack is smaller because you often remove some beehive boxes. Usually, honey super boxes are the boxes that beekeepers remove. In the beehive, they leave only the honey that honeybees will use for winter. In addition to the winter season, this article also details the other times you might need to remove beehive boxes from the stack.
When Do You Need to Store Honey Supers?
Beehive boxes are valuable beekeeping equipment. You may need to store them for a period of time due to different reasons. During storage, the boxes face various risks that you need to address. If you mitigate the risks well, you are able to reuse the beehive boxes in your beehives. When you do not take good care of the boxes in storage, you may have to reclaim them by carrying out repairs after the storage period. In the worst cases, you are forced to replace the beehive boxes and incur costs that you could have avoided.
During Beehive Treatment
Applying treatments of various types may require you to remove some boxes from a beehive stack. In such a case, it is good if you know how to store honey supers during beehive treatment. This is because honey supers are the beehive boxes that are usually removed. Honey in the supers is a food for both honeybees and humans. If the honey gets contaminated by the chemicals or compounds you apply during treatment of the beehive, it becomes unsuitable for consumption. You would then have to throw it away. Removing honey supers from the beehive stack before treatment saves you from incurring such losses.
You may store honey supers that you remove during beehive treatment near the beehives or within the apiary. Make sure that the treatment you apply to the beehive does not come into contact with the honey supers. If the honey super boxes have honey in them, you should take greater care in their storage. You should put them in a secure place so that they are not damaged or destroyed by insects, rodents and other animals that they may attract.
Put the boxes in a closable space for the duration of the beehive treatment. You may remove beehive frames from the honey supers and store them separately. If the honey supers do not have beehive frames in them, you can safely store them outdoors.
Extracting honey and other beehive products sees you disrupting the honeybee colony and the arrangement of your beehive boxes. Removing honey super boxes allows you to carry out many honey extraction processes away from the beehive. It also allows for you to carry out repairs and other maintenance activities on the boxes that need them. Take into account the presence or absence of beehive frames with honey in their comb is when deciding how to store honey supers during extraction.
Honey supers with honey in them are more valuable than empty honey supers. You should ensure best security for them from human thieves, insects and animals. You should also exercise high levels of hygiene with the boxes. Extract honey from the frames in the honey supers as soon as you can. If you have to store the supers with honey in them, you may put them in a cold space.
A closable and secure shed or space is best for storing honey supers that have honey. Cover them or wrap them to prevent attacks by insects that may enter the storage space. Wrapping the boxes also helps prevent dust from falling on the beehive super boxes. Institute measures to ensure that rodents, and other animals do not gain access to the honey boxes.
When extracting honey from the supers, keep them on a level surface and ensure that you observe cleanliness with the boxes. The surface should be made of food grade stainless steel or aluminium. If the surface is made using other materials, place a clean protective sheet of polythene over the surface before putting the supers on the surface. Go through the process of extraction quickly and then return the supers to use in the beehive.
Over winter, store honey supers in a place where they do not become houses for rodents and insects. Mice and wax moths are the biggest risks to the honey super boxes. You should store the boxes in a secure location where they are not exposed to snow or water. Moisture is a major problem for beehive boxes in storage over winter.
If you are able to store the boxes safely in a place where they are exposed to cold temperatures without damaging them, it is acceptable. Small animals and insects do not like making their habitat in cold spaces. Also ,apply other methods of ensuring security and safety for the beehive boxes so that they remain in best condition after winter.
Safe Storage of Honey Supers
The safe storing of honey supers allows you to safely use them in a beehive stack. Both beginner and experienced beekeepers can store honey supers safely. You get the best safety when you take into account the various risks that honey supers face in storage and mitigate them.
You should also consider a multi-pronged approach to ensuring the supers are in best storage conditions. Most importantly, dryness, aeration and light penetration are the factors you should consider. We discuss them below, alongside other methods you can use when you store honey supers to ensure that they remain in top condition.
1. Closable Sheds
Access to honey supers should be limited to yourself and other authorized personnel only. You should, therefore, provide maximum security for the honey supers in storage. Using a closable space such as a shed as your storage space for honey supers is a good way to approach this. A closable shed with proper safeguards keeps out rodents and large animals too. The space should have aeration and also allow light to enter the inside.
On the ventilation inlets of your closable space, use fine mesh to keep out insects too. Using such a properly prepared shed for storing honey supers saves you the trouble of dealing with rodents, small animals, large animals and insects. It is also great protection of the super boxes from theft by people.
Other features of a closable storage shed or space for honey supers are:
- Floor Setup – The floor of the space should not allow dampness through it. You may also place honey supers on another object such as cider blocks or polythene to prevent water seeping up from the floor into the wood.
- Shelving – Have shelves in the space or shed to hold the boxes and the beehive frames you have.
- Materials and Construction – Use durable materials to construct the structure you use. Additionally, construct it solidly such that it easily withstands various elements and forces it encounters over time.
2. Cleaning Beehive Boxes
When you are deciding how to store honey supers, cleanliness is an important factor to address. It encompasses cleanliness of the space where you will store the honey supers, cleanliness of the honey supers, and cleanliness of anything that comes into contact with the honey supers in storage.
Cleanliness of the Storage Space
Store your honey supers in a clean place. Take time to clean and dry out the storage space before bringing in the supers for storage. During cleaning, pay greater attention to corners, crevices and seams. Remove any insects, dirt and dust that may be in the space, so that it does not get onto your honey supers when you store them.
Clean Honey Supers before Storage
Before you put them into storage, clean the honey super boxes. Remove any residual honey, wax or propolis on the boxes as necessary. You may also use water to clean the boxes. Do not use soap to clean the boxes.
In the water, you may add some sterilizing chemical compounds to kill microorganisms on the boxes. This kills any fungal spores and eggs of pests and parasites of honeybees that may be on the honey super boxes. It reduces the likelihood of funguses growing on the super boxes, as well as the likelihood of pests and parasites of honeybees hatching from eggs on the boxes during the storage period.
Waxing the Honey Supers
As part of your cleanliness routine for the honey supers, you may dip them in hot wax before storage. The hot wax kills insect eggs, any living pests and parasites of the honeybees that may be on the beehive boxes. It also improves preservation of the wood that makes up the super boxes.
Clean Materials Contacting the Honey Supers
Make sure that any material that comes into contact with honey supers is clean. Observe this safety measure from the time you clean the storage space and honey supers. Use clean gloves or clean your hands before handling the boxes.
Use clean polythene or canvas to wrap the boxes if you choose to. This helps to bring down the probability of introducing harmful bacteria, fungal spores, and eggs of pests or parasites into the storage space or the honey supers themselves.
3. Wrapping in Polythene or Canvas
Wrap honey supers in polythene or canvas to protect them during storage. Use the material that is easy for you to acquire, use and manage. Wrapping up the boxes during their storage period protects them from infestation by insects. Rodents also have a difficult time eating through the wrapping material to reach the enclosed honey supers.
The wrapped boxes hold their beehive odours within the enclosed space within the wrapper. They attract less attention by insects and animals that would use sense of smell to locate the honey supers. In wrapped beehive boxes, you may place a few chemical compounds in their varying preparations such as powders or crystals. They improve the prevention of infestation of the honey supers in storage by insects such as wax moths.
Canvas allows some aeration of the boxes and humidity is in balance with the environment. It, however, allows water and dampness through it if the super boxes are in contact with a wet surface. Additionally, canvas keeps the boxes in darkness once you wrap it around the honey supers.
On the other hand, polythene paper of the correct thickness keeps out insects, rodents and moisture. It also allows some light to enter the stack of honey supers in storage. On the downside however, polythene wrapping does not allow aeration and humidity regulation in the honey supers it encloses. Another issue with using polythene to wrap honey supers in storage, is that the boxes may get musty. The mustiness is, however, easy to clear by airing out the boxes when you want to use them.
4. Using Chemical Compounds
Beekeepers may use chemical compounds in various forms to ensure their honey supers in storage are safe. While some beekeepers may be against the use of chemicals in their beekeeping operations, it is important to note that most chemicals used in this manner are either safe for use or you can easily clear them from the honey super boxes. Airing out the honey supers for a few days before placing them on a beehive stack causes complete clearing of chemical compounds and their vapours from the beehive boxes.
Combatting Wax Moths
Wax moths are a common target for chemical compounds that you use in this method. You can also deal with rodent attacks easily by placing poisonous bait near the stored honey supers. For wax moths, you may use a Bacillus Thurigiensis (BT) preparation or Para-Dichlorobenzene (PDB).
BT preparations available to beekeepers usually come in powder form. You mix the powder with water and then spray the preparation on surfaces of your honey supers. Certan and Xentari are two popular brands of BT powder you can use. Apply BT treatment either before, or after storing your honey supers. BT kills the larvae of wax moths. It is an organic treatment that many beekeepers prefer to use.
Para-dichlorobenzene is a powerful chemical compound that comes in form of crystals. It is also called Para-Moth. This is a chemical compound with a strong odour and may be carcinogenic. You may place the compound in the honey supers, or near the boxes in storage.
Regular moth balls are not suitable for using in beekeeping. They contain compounds that are toxic to humans and honeybees too.
5. Lighting and Aeration
Allow air to circulate in your stored honey supers if you have not wrapped them up. Additionally, light entering the honey supers makes them unsuitable as shelter for insects and animals. Wax moths, mice and rats avoid beehive boxes that have good aeration and light passing through them. They prefer dark or poorly-lit areas such as corners in your storage space.
You may use natural lighting or artificial lighting in the storage space. Ensure aeration of the storage space. Letting air to flow in and around the honey supers in storage reduces dampness and helps with regulating humidity. It causes conditions that wax moths do not like living in.
6. Traps near Honey Supers in Storage
Placing traps of various types near honey supers in storage is a good way to provide protection to the super boxes. Often, beekeepers use traps that will catch mice and rats. You may also use insect traps. Place the trap near or within the honey supers. Make sure that such traps have bait.
When used within an enclosed space, the traps form a first line of defense for the honey supers in storage. They catch the target animal or insect before it can cause damage to the beehive boxes if the insect or animal manages to enter the space.
Risks Facing Stored Honey Supers
The major risks that honey supers face in storage are inhabitation by rodents, pests and parasites of honeybees. Additionally, the honey supers may get damp and grow mildew and funguses on them. In some cases, the wood making up the boxes rots away.
1. Inhabitation by Rodents
Rodents are a big problem for honey supers that you put into storage. Rats, mice and even wild rodents may make their nests in the beehive boxes and damage them. This is especially a big problem when the boxes are in storage over winter.
Conditions in the environment cause the rodents to seek out alternative shelters in places that are not covered in snow or ice. Your beehive boxes are a great shelter for them if they are able to reach the boxes. Prevent this by using traps around honey supers in storage and by allowing light into the boxes. Honey supers that are in light are unattractive as a shelter to rodents and small animals.
2. Damage by Animals
Various animals of large size may gain access to your stored honey supers. They can damage the beehive boxes due to the smell of honey coming from beehive boxes. Breaking the boxes and gnawing away some wood from the boxes are the common forms of damage that animals cause to the honey supers. You should, therefore, make sure that large animals cannot access the honey supers in storage.
Additionally, cleaning the supers to remove traces of honey and beehive smells reduces their attractiveness to the animals. Bears are the most notorious large animals that can cause a lot of damage and heavy losses to honey supers in storage.
3. Harbouring Pests and Parasites
At any time during storage of honey supers, they may get infested by pests and parasites of honeybees. Insects of other types may also make a home in the beehive boxes. One of the insects that are a problem to beekeepers is wax moths. It can make a home in the boxes and lay eggs. When the eggs of the wax moth hatch, they make burrows in wax comb. This causes you heavy losses in your beekeeping operation.
Wax moths will usually make the honey supers their habitat if the boxes are not exposed to light and aeration. Beekeepers use light and air flow in the honey supers they put in storage to keep wax moths at bay. Some also use chemical compounds that kill the moths before they can lay eggs in the honey supers.
4. Mildew and Funguses
Do not store honey supers in humid conditions. Too much humidity in the honey supers creates favourable conditions for mildew to grow on the wood of the beehive boxes. Funguses also have an easy time establishing themselves on the surfaces of the beehive boxes. Mildew and funguses are a threat to honeybee colonies. They make bees sick and can even cause collapse of the colony.
You should make sure that you store honey supers in a way that humidity is under control. Air exchange between the boxes and the environment helps keep humidity in proper levels. You should also ensure that honey supers are not wet before you put them in storage.
5. Honey Supers Rotting in Storage
Wood that makes up beehive boxes is an organic material that can decompose. Your honey supers may start rotting while they are in storage. Wetness in the stored honey supers triggers and supports the rotting of the wood. You should, therefore, avoid storing honey supers when they are wet or in a place where they will get wet.
Water dripping on the honey supers or seeping up from the surface you put them on are some of the avenues through which stored honey supers can get wet. Honey supers that rot are not suitable anymore for use in the beehive. You may repair them, or reclaim some of the wood if some pieces or sections are useful.
Beekeeping equipment such as beehive boxes are expensive. Proper care and maintenance of the equipment ensures it gives you as much service as it can. Beehive boxes made using wood can quickly become unusable if you store them improperly. They can also harbour unwanted pests of honeybees.
Different techniques of storage and controlling pests are available to you. Select the best for your individual circumstances and use it well. Keep in mind that when you remove boxes from the beehive stack, leave enough stock of honey for the honeybees to use as they need. Use the tips in this article on how to store honey supers for best care of your beehive boxes.