Ask the Expert: Chlorine to Clean Hives

Ask the Expert: Chlorine to Clean Hives

Chris W. asks: 

Can I use chlorine bleach to clean hives? 

Rusty Burlew answers: 

Beekeepers find many uses for chlorine bleach in and around hives. In its diluted form, it is relatively safe for bees, and some people even add it to sugar syrup to retard mold growth. Oddly enough, chlorine-treated water sources such as swimming pools and hose bibbs can attract honey bees from long distances. 

Chlorine bleach can disinfect frames, boxes, and other woodenware. Although the wooden parts may not look much better when you are done, they will definitely be cleaner because bleach kills most small or single-celled organisms including mold, mildew, bacteria, and viruses. 

You can spray bleach on hive surfaces or spread it with a rag. In either case, the hive parts should be allowed to dry thoroughly so the wood doesn’t absorb too much moisture. One of the best ways to bleach hive parts is to wipe away any excess bleach and then allow the pieces to dry in the sun. A thorough airing will remove most of the residual chlorine odor while the sun further disinfects with UV light. 

Originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of Backyard Beekeeping and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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