Iotron trip 2019 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. In support of bee health, the club also contributes some funding to assist with transport.

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 (from a second hand purchase), or just for annual maintenance and preventative measures. If planning to sell your equipment, it is expected that the seller will sterile the items. Irradiation is an efficient and non-invasive 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. Keeping your equipment clean helps ensure good colony health and productivity, while reducing the spread of disease in your neighborhood.

Location: Provided by email to members
Loading/drop-off date: Wednesday, April 3rd, 7am-9.30pm (bring your completed shipping form)
Iotron trip date: Thursday, April 4th
Unload/pick-up date: Thursday, April 4th, evening or Friday, April 5th

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 (commercial 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 the Iotron coordinator will email/call you with your fee total. We need your shipping form to track and calculate your equipment total.

Our 2019 estimate for the transport fee is between $3.50 and $7.00 per item. We require a minimum of 84 items to secure an appointment with the Iotron facility. On average, the club sends about 300 items per annual trip. The CRBA’s bee health funding support for 2019 will also help reduce our transport costs.

Example cost for sending 1 super to the Iotron facility: Iotron fee for specific item ($5.00) + transport fee (say $3.50) = $8.50.

Payment: The CRBA pays the total upfront cost, and then the members reimburse the club for their share through the Iotron coordinator. You can pay by cash, email transfer (EMT) or cheque (cheques payable to “Capital Region Beekeepers Association”). Submit your payment at the next bee meeting or drop off to the Iotron coordinator as per group email instructions. We then submit the payment bundle and receipts to the CRBA Treasurer. If you need a payment receipt, please ask. Iotron issues a proof of processing certificate that we forward to the members.

How to Sign up: CRBA members can sign-up by sending an email to the Iotron coordinator. In this email, provide the following 4 details: name, email, phone #, estimated amount of items to send (e.g. 5, 10, 20, 50 items…). Email is preferred but if it’s not your thing, you can call 250-386-5982. We contact the group to update your amount closer to the trip day.

2019 Iotron price list:

  • Supers (deep, dadant, etc.) (fee based on a Langstroth footprint dimension): $5.00 each
  • 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

What to send? The 2019 price list shows items you can send and what you can package together. Fees are determined by the footprint area an item uses on the Iotron conveyer tray going into the irradiation unit. If you have questions, check the FAQs below or just email/call. You can send items that aren’t on the list, but please ask us first.

It’s tempting, we know, to save a few bucks and combine many equipment items together into one large item (e.g. stack a super with frames inside, a queen excluder, inner cover, outer cover, bottom board). Sadly, it doesn’t work that way and your equipment just won’t be sterilized. The penetrating electron beam quickly slows down as it passes through the equipment – wood, metal, wax comb, honey. An item with many layers is too dense, and will not be completely sterilized. Be kind to your bees and do it right.

No waterlogged equipment: this will make a big conveyer tray mess during processing. Dry out the items before wrapping. Similarly, if your equipment has pests in it (i.e. wax moth) ensure that your packaging will keep all the nasty stuff contained. Iotron has been quite pleased with the efforts that CRBA members make to send well wrapped equipment – let’s keep up the good work!

No supers of honey: supers full of honey frames are too dense to be sterilized by Iotron. They are also brutal to manually load/unload in the cargo truck and are usually a sticky mess, so we just can’t take them. Full supers of honey will not be loaded on the truck. However, smaller packages of honey frames can be treated, see the FAQs.

How to package your items: The equipment is carefully hand-loaded and unloaded four times. Please keep this in mind when you prepare your equipment – items are snugly wrapped, well taped, and impressively labelled.

  • Package: Wrap each item in plastic (i.e. garbage bags, plastic). Secure well 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.
  • Label: Clearly label with permanent marker each item on the top with your information. You can write on the tape or use labels, whatever works, as long as it’s visible, will stay put and can deal with being rained on. Include your name, CRBA, phone number and the number of items (1 of 8, 2 of 8, …). If your shipment contains fragile content (like glass) clearly label it as such.
  • Form: Complete your shipping form. Drop off the form with your equipment on loading day. If you get to the truck on delivery day and forgot your form, we will have some blank ones available.

Frequently asked questions

Tip – Using your clean equipment in the hive yard. Have a system to mark your sterilized equipment, a symbol or date so you can identify it from your non treated equipment. E.g. adopt the 5 year queening colour co or a letter stamp set (see Lee Valley), etc. If you have questions or tips to add to the FAQ please send us an email.

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