Iotron trip 2018 preparation

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The Iotron facility is located on the mainland in Port Coquitlam. It uses an electron beam process that irradiates (sterilizes) a variety of products from foods or medical instruments to bee equipment. The club conducts one trip per year for members. We rent a cargo truck for two days to provide a drop off/loading day for equipment into the truck, and a trip day to Vancouver and back. The trip day starts at 5:00am in Victoria and ends at about 8:00pm to do this all in one day. Iotron processing takes about 5 hours. This is a long travel day for our volunteers, so we count on the help from club members to unload the truck when it arrives that evening. Equipment is then collected by members that evening or during the next day. Payments are calculated immediately after the trip is done, and the fee amount is emailed to participants.

Why sterilize equipment? Beekeepers use this sterilization (irradiation) method to effectively clean and revitalize equipment that has experienced a dead-out (colony has died), may be diseased (Nosema, AFB), that has an unknown origin, or just for preventative measures. If planning to sell your equipment, it is expected that the seller will sterile the items. Irradiation is an efficient method and a certificate can be provided to the buyer or Bee Inspector prior to selling. Keeping your equipment clean helps ensure the health and productivity of your bee colony, reduces the potential for spreading disease to neighbouring colonies, and increases your own success as a beekeeper. The Iotron is a fast and non-invasive method to clean equipment and can save the beekeeper time otherwise spent scraping and torching equipment.

Location: 3067 Donald St (white house, green trim)
Loading/drop-off date: Wednesday, April 11th, 7am-9pm (bring your completed shipping sheet)
Iotron trip date: Thursday, April 12th
Unload/pick-up date: Thursday, April 12th, evening or Friday, April 13th; the equipment will sit in the driveway

Cost: The cost is determined after the trip because the number items sent will influence the cost of transportation which includes; cargo truck rental, truck fuel, round trip ferry fare, and a light lunch for the two volunteers. The total cost of the trip is divided by the number of items we send. The more we send, the lower the cost per item for transport. After the trip we calculate the payments and email/call you with your fee total.

Payment: The CRBA pays the total cost, and then the members reimburse the club for their share. You can pay by cash or cheque (cheque is to “Capital Region Beekeepers Association”). Give your payment to the Iotron volunteer (Alanna) at the bee meeting or drop off at 3067 Donald St (envelope with name into the mailbox). We then package everything as one payment bundle and give to the club Treasurer.

Receipt & Certificate: Iotron Certificate – we will email it to you. If you need a payment receipt, please ask.

2018 Iotron price list:

  • Supers (deep, dadant etc) (fee based on a Langstroth footprint dimension): $5.00
  • Nuc box hive: $4.00 each
  • Top bar hive (cost based on its footprint on the Iotron conveyor tray): $5.00 per foot
  • Bottom board: $2.00 each
  • Outer/telescoping cover: $2.00 each
  • Inner covers (3 pack): $2.50/pkg
  • Frames (2 pack): $2.50/pkg
  • Queen excluders (5 pack): $2.50/pkg
  • Other (please describe): TBD
  • Pollen (tightly packed to 11cm in height or less): $0.80/kg
  • Liquid honey (packed at 2cm in height or less): $0.80/kg

Our 2018 estimate for the transport cost per item is between $4.00 and $7.00 per item. The more equipment that is sent by club members, the lower the transport cost becomes. We require a minimum of 84 items to book an appointment with Iotron. On average, the club has sent about 300 items in a shipment which makes the transport fees quite affordable to club members. Transport fee is comprised of

  • truck rental (2 days, mileage, insurance)
  • truck fuel
  • ferry fare (commercial rate)
  • light lunch for 2 club volunteers

As an example, to sterilize one super could cost $8.25: 1 super = $5.00 + transport cost (e.g. $3.25) = $8.25.

What to send? See the pricing list for what can be sent. Fees are determined by the footprint area an item requires on the conveyor tray into the irradiation machine. If you have questions, check the FAQs below or just email/call. You can also send items that aren’t on the list, just ask us.

It’s tempting we know… to save a few bucks and combine a bunch of items together (e.g. make one larger item such as a super with frames inside, plus an outer cover, queen excluder and bottom board). Unfortunately, your equipment won’t be sterilized that way. The electron beams penetrate the equipment and it quickly slow down as it passes through the materials (wood, metal, wax comb, honey). An item that is too dense in materials will not be properly sterilized. Be kind to your bees and do it right.

Do not send waterlogged equipment, this will make a mess during processing on the conveyor tray. Try to dry out items before wrapping. Similarly, if equipment has pests in it (i.e. wax moth) ensure that packaging will keep any nasty stuff contained. Iotron has been pleased with the efforts that CRBA members make to send prepared equipment – let’s keep up the good work.

How to package your items:

  1. Wrap each item in plastic (i.e. garbage bags, plastic). Secure it with packing tape or duct tape. If there are frames in your super, run tape across the middle of the frames to reduce frames slipping during shipment/ processing. Do tape any sharp metal corners, let’s protect our volunteers. No rope or bungee cords please.
  2. Clearly label with permanent marker each item on the top to indicate “this side up”. You can write on the tape or use labels, whatever works, as long as it’s visible and will stay put. Include the number of items (1 of 8, 2 of 8, …). Fragile – anything with glass please write Fragile Glass.
  3. Complete your shipping list and drop off with your equipment at the truck on loading day. Your shipping list is very important for us to do our job properly.

Frequently asked questions

Can I put frames inside a super to send for treatment?
Yes you can frames inside a super. They can be wood, plastic, and with/without comb. If you have empty frames or drawn comb frames, put the empty ones in the middle of the super since they will have less density. Drawn comb on the outside of super.

Do not include honey frames, they are too dense to be processed this way. One exception, you could place one partial honey frame at each outside edge of the super, with empty frames in between (thus 2 honey frames, 8 empty frames) but for the most effective treatment for honey frames, send as a 2-frame package.  Processing will warm the honey so wrap securely. Full supers of honey supers are extremely heavy and will no longer be taken on the truck. Remember, our volunteers must load/ unload the cargo truck 4 times in one day to transfer the equipment.


How can I send honey frames for treatment?
All items with partial or full honey frames must be well wrapped to prevent leakage. Electron beam processing will slightly warm the honey.

  • For partially filled honey frames (approximately 1/3 honey or less), place one on each outer edge of a super and fill in between with empty or drawn comb frames. Too many honey frames will block sterilization for the other frames.
  • For full honey frames, package them in sets of two frames. The facility does not require these 2-package frames to be inside a container but this is an option. Otherwise we suggest cardboard on either side, then wrapped and sealed in plastic. Honey gets warm during processing and may start to leak.


Can I send an item that is not on the list?
Yes, Iotron will accept miscellaneous items. Be careful with glass inserts, either remove the glass or package it very well. If your glass is dual pane or with a film, do not send it. Processing may darken the glass. The fee will vary depending on its footprint on the conveyor tray.


Should I send my honey supers and their empty frames?
If your bees were accessing a honey super and its frames, then it may be worth having it sterilized, especially if it was part of a dead-out hive or that which experienced some disease concerns. You will need to use your judgement on this one. Keep in mind that honey supers will become the container to provide your bees with food in future seasons.


It is highly recommended that second hand/abandoned/gifted equipment always be sterilized. Otherwise you expose the bees to a new home with a potentially dubious history. Start with a clean hive… 🙂


Can I put a bottom board or inner cover on my supers that are going for treatment?
Yes, to some degree you can add one inner cover or queen excluder. Keep in mind that you do want the electron beam to penetrate the equipment successfully, so adding too many equipment layers will defeat this purpose.


Should I leave my new equipment wrapped so it stays clean?
It is not recommended to leave your equipment wrapped whether stored indoors or outside. It will sweat inside and create mildew and molds. This can occur in a matter of days and ruin your good clean equipment.

  • Outside storage – definitely unwrap them. Some people place newspaper between the stacked supers then tarp over
  • Inside storage – recommend unwrapping but if you monitor your equipment closely, it might be okay…


How do I send a top bar hive?
Top bar hives are usually comprised a long hive body, a matching roof, and support legs. You can send all items if you feel the need but most beekeepers will send just the hive body and consider sending the roof, depending on their reasons for sterilizing (is it for maintenance or disease concerns). Top bar hives will have a larger footprint on the Iotron conveyor tray so will cost a bit more to process. For the most effective sterilization, sending the hive body and roof separately is ideal, especially if the roof is sheeted in metal. Most people do not send the legs.


Mark your sterilized equipment with a symbol or date so you can identify it in the hive yard from your non treated equipment. E.g. adopt a colour dot system like the queening codes, use a drop of nail polish, or a letter stamp set (see Lee Valley), etc.

If you have questions or tips to add to the FAQ please email.


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