Cleaning equipment

A beekeeper’s gloves, hive tool and smoker are unlikely to carry sufficiently large numbers of spores to be a major factor in the spread of AFB. Nevertheless, when an AFB hive is found, precautions should be taken to ensure that equipment will not be a risk.

Beekeepers have traditionally used a range of products including soaps, detergents and methylated spirits or kerosene to sterilise gloves and smokers. Some of these may physically remove AFB spores, but trials have shown that none of these substances are able to kill them.

Figure 57: Flame sterilising a hive tool

When AFB is found, a sensible approach to cleaning beekeeping equipment is as follows:
  • Scrape excess propolis and wax off the wooden parts of the smoker bellows with a hive tool
  • Scrub the outside of gloves with soapy water. The soap will not destroy spores on the gloves, but it will help to remove materials such as wax, propolis and honey that might contain significant concentrations of spores
  • Scrub the bellows and base of smoker in the same soapy water
  • Scrape all propolis off the hive tool
  • Scorch the hive tool by putting it into the smoker and pumping on the bellows to produce a flame (Fig. 57)