Storing Extracted Frames over Winter
by Donald Ray Burger

One of the more valuable items owned by beekeepers are the frames left over after honey is extracted in the fall. By reusing the drawn comb on these frames, one is assured of even more honey in the following years. Thus, it makes sense to protect this valuable asset.

Before extracting your honey, you should make a trip to Target or Walmart, and buy several Sterlite brand storage boxes. They need to be clear plastic and have the ear flaps on the ends for making a good seal. The ones I use have a 66 quart capacity and are 16” x 13” x 23”.

The goal is to make sure that wax moths don’t lay eggs in the extracted comb. If they do, the wax moth larvae will hatch out and eat the wax. Not a good thing.

I recommend having one box for each nine or ten frames. A box may hold more than that, but by restricting the container to nine or ten frames, any disaster will be limited in scope.

After you’ve extracted the frames, you can either put the frames back on the hive for your bees to clean out, or place them in the backyard for all the neighborhood bees to clean. It usually takes about a day and half for this work to be accomplished.

Wax Moth eggs may be in the comb, and we have to kill those eggs before storage over winter. The way I do it is to put the cleaned up frames in the freezer for 48 hours. After making space in the freezer, I can usually fit six to ten frames in the freezer compartment at one time. That means it takes me several days to run through all the frames.

After the bees have cleaned the frames, I put them in the Sterlite containers while they wait their turn in the freezer. Having extra Sterlite containers for this part of the procedure makes things go easier. When a set of frames has been in the freezer for 48 hours, I put it in a new Sterlite container. By the second batch, I’ve usually filled up that container. Repeat until all frames pass through the freezer. I store the containers with the frames in the garage. Wax moths do not like light so that is why we use clear plastic containers.

Bee suppliers make moth balls that are specifically designed for beekeeping , but I always worry that the chemicals will get into the wax. Using my method avoids this issue. Give it a try!

This article originally appeared in the September, 2015, issue of The Skep, the newsletter of the Houston Beekeepers Association.

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