Super Solution for Cleaning Supers

By Camilla Bee, Editor

A general recommendation for cleaning up honey supers after extraction is to put them back on the hive where they came for a week or so. But that’s not always practical or possible.

Another common option is to put them out for the bees to lick dry (open clean-up). This method has its pros and cons. The good consists of sticky, dripping supers converted within a couple sunny days to dry and easy to handle; it is beyond amazing what the bees do.

The bad is that it typically is much more than bees doing the cleaning. You’ve just set up a buffet for every wasp, hornet, ant and other creature in a three county area. Other downsides include:

  • Feeding small hive beetles

  • Rodents tearing up the drawn comb (drawn comb is incredibly valuable for next season as it jumpstarts the bees’ honey production)

  • Sharing of diseases, if there are any present

  • The possibility of setting off a robbing frenzy in any nearby hives (so put them far, far away)

Yes, the bad list is longer than the good, but I personally use this method when I can’t get supers back on the hive for clean-up. I don’t want to store “wet supers” as they’re an invitation to ants, and often mold and happy mice taking up residence in them as well.

A few readers recently shared what they do to protect valuable drawn comb during the open clean-up process. They place the extracted honey super on top of a queen excluder, and place another queen excluder on top of it (or a stack of honey supers), and place the stack on bricks for circulation and easy access from below. Great idea!

I took it a step further, using my trusty wagon which allows me to pull the drying supers out of the rain. (Some of you may remember what that is.) The bricks on top ensure our power-lifter raccoons can’t get to the supers. There’s a queen excluder over the gap in the front. I had a few problems with mice getting into the larger gaps of the wagon wire, but I believe the roaming neighborhood kitty handled that.

Next month: Extensive information on how to store supers for the winter.

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