Iotron trip 2020 preparation

Printer friendly view

Please take a moment to read. We learn something each year so the instructions can change, we try to answer all your questions in this document.

The Iotron facility is an electron beam facility located in Port Coquitlam BC. It provides an irradiation service that can effectively sterilize a variety of products (i.e. food, medical instruments, beekeeping equipment). The CRBA organizes an annual trip for its club members using a cargo truck to deliver equipment to the facility, overall a two day process and run by volunteers.

Pre-trip: We will contact you to confirm your shipment amount, Iotron requires an update prior to the date
Day 1/Loading day: Members drop off equipment and help load into truck, at a Victoria location.
Day 2/Travel: Day trip to Port Coquitlam to Iotron facility – unload/process/reload/return to Victoria and unload.

To complete the same day processing, the travel day begins at 5:00am and finished about 8:00pm. These are long days for the volunteers, so they count on club members to rally together and help unload the truck that evening. It takes about 20 minutes with a spirited group. Members are asked to collect their equipment that evening, otherwise on the next day. Payments are calculated after the trip, and the fee totals are emailed to each member. We send the certificate when it arrives from Iotron. In support of community bee health, the club often contributes some funding to assist with the transportation cost.

Why sterilize equipment? Beekeepers use this reliable method to clean and revitalize equipment that may have an unknown origins (e.g. second hand), has had disease (i.e. Nosema, AFB, mites, wax moth/pets, mystery dead-outs), as maintenance, or planning to sell equipment. For sales, arrange for the bee inspector to revise your equipment soon after treatment ( keep equipment wrapped and Iotron tagged). Keeping your equipment clean helps ensure good colony health, strength and productivity, and reduces the spread of disease in your neighbourhood.

Location: Provided by email to members
Loading/drop-off date: Sunday, March 15th, 7am-9.30pm (bring your completed shipping form)
Iotron trip date: Monday, March 16th
Unload/pick-up date: Monday, March 16th, evening (monitor email for truck arrival time)

Your cost: Cost is calculated after the trip and breaks down into transport and treatment fees.
Treatment fee: We total the cost of your items on the shipping form with the price list and Iotron’s invoice.
Transport fee: We total the costs for the transport trip, and divide it by the number of items we sent to get a transport fee. That amount is then applied to each item. This amount changes per year, the more equipment sent the lower the transport fee will be. The amount of equipment sent affects the transportation cost which includes; 2-day truck rental, insurance, mileage, fuel, round trip ferry fare (commercial), and volunteer lunch for two volunteers.

Our 2020 estimate for the transport fee is between $2.75 and $4.50 per item. A minimum of 125 items is needed 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 2020 can help reduce our transport costs.

Example cost for sending 1 super to the Iotron facility: Treatment fee $6.00 + transport fee (~$3.00) = $9.00 to sterilize the super. We rely on your shipping form to track your equipment, and accurately calculate the fee.

Payment: The CRBA carries the initial cost, then members reimburse the club for their share through the Iotron coordinator. Pay with cash, email transfer (EMT) or by cheque (cheques payable to Capital Region Beekeepers Association). Submit your payment at the next bee meeting or drop off to the Iotron coordinator – follow instructions in group emails. 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: Full name, email, phone #, amount (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 members prior to trip day to confirm your shipment.

2020 Iotron price list:

  • Supers (deep, dadant, etc.) (fee based on a Langstroth footprint dimension): $6.00 each
  • Nuc box hive: $6.00 each
  • Top bar hive (cost based on its footprint on the Iotron conveyer tray): $5.00 per foot
  • Bottom board: $3.00 each
  • Outer/telescoping cover: $3.00 each
  • Inner covers (3 pack): $3.00/pkg
  • Frames (2 pack): $3.50/pkg
  • Queen excluders (5 pack): $3.00/pkg
  • Other (please describe; tools, containers, observation hive, topbar frame slats, bee suits = $6.00 each, see FAQs): TBD
  • Pollen (tightly packed to 11cm in height or less): $1.00/kg
  • Liquid honey (packed at 2cm in height or less): $1.00/kg
  • Empty pallet: $20.00 per pallet

All items are placed on a conveyer tray that passes through the irradiation unit two times. Pricing is based on an item’s footprint area when placed on the conveyer tray.

What to send? The 2020 price list shows items you can send, and what you may package together. Iotron calls each thing you send an “item”. 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. We can send almost anything, we just need to package it right!

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: Your equipment is hand loaded/ unloaded four times. Please keep this in mind when you prepare your equipment – items are snuggly 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. Bring it with your equipment on loading day and leave with us. If you arrive and forgot your form, we will have extras on hand. We will go over your form info with you.


  • Dry out your stuff before wrapping it. Equipment warms during treatment, and if left wrapped for days after, it will sweat and invite new creepy things to live in the dampness.
  • Unwrap your sterilized equipment promptly. If left wrapped, it will sweat and mold and ruin your equipment. It needs to air. Unless your wrapped stuff is in a super dry storage space, then you can leave it wrapped but highly recommend you monitor it.
  • If keeping your stuff wrapped as Iotron proof while you wait for the bee inspector to inspect, you can cut holes in the wrap or store in a cool dry area, just monitor!
  • Odd items and honey frames can be wrapped using cut cardboard (bee suits, hive tool, etc.).
  • Keep odd items fairly narrow so they get good beam exposure (two passes in election beam, flipped on 2nd pass).
  • Make labels/text large enough to read at night or at arm’s length. Envelope return address stickers don’t work!
  • If you can, make your stuff distinct (colour tape, labels, etc.). As we unload at night, it’s easier to ID things and stack your stuff into the same pile.
  • Using your clean equipment in the hive yard. Mark your newly sterilized equipment, so you can identify it from your non treated equipment. E.g. adopt the 5 year queening colour code. Or use letter/# stamps.
  • Photo examples show use of expensive red construction tape. You can definitely just use packing or duct tape.
  • Equipment drop off – if unsure about shipment form, we will help you when you arrive. Please ask.
  • If you have questions or tips to add to the FAQ please send an email to the Iotron coordinator.

Frequently asked questions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *