Iotron trip 2021 preparation

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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 is an electron beam facility located in Port Coquitlam BC (now called Sterigenics). It provides an irradiation service that effectively sterilizes products and equipment (i.e. food, medical instruments, beekeeping equipment) using a 10 kGy or 15 kGy gamma ray. The CRBA organizes an annual trip for club members only using a cargo truck to deliver equipment for sterilization at this facility, this is a two day event that is coordinated by club members. Keeping your equipment clean helps ensure good colony health, strength and productivity – and reduces the spread of disease in your apiary and for the surrounding bee community.

Why sterilize equipment? Beekeepers use this method to clean beekeeping equipment to treat for

  • Disease and pathogens ( e.g. Nosema, AFB/ EFB, wax moth, varroa mite, dead-out hives, pests, fungus/molds)
  • Second hand equipment or of unknown origins,
  • Proactive maintenance ( clean equipment = healthier colony)
  • Equipment that is slated for sale (If selling equipment, keep your sterilized equipment wrapped and Iotron tagged so the bee inspector can verify equipment is cleaned. Arrange your inspection soon after so the equipment does not sweat inside its wrappings)

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.

2021 Covid Precautions: to ensure social distancing, the truck will not be unloaded using a team approach this year, and no same day equipment collection. Participants may collect their equipment at their convenience from the drop off site in the days following the trip.

Fees & Payments: Each year Iotron updates their price list and this is provided to club members when they sign up. In support of community bee health, the club contributes funding to assist with the transportation cost and this further improves the affordability of this service for members. Payments are calculated after the trip and each fee total is emailed. The treatment certificate will also be provided.

Your Fee: This cost is calculated after the trip and is a combination of the transport fee and treatment fee:

  • Treatment Fee: total the cost of your items on the shipping form and is confirmed against Iotron’s invoice.
  • Transport Fee: total cost of the trip’s transportation, divided by the total number of equipment items sent. This transport fee is then applied to each item. This amount changes per year, based on the volume of equipment sent. Transportation cost includes the 2-day truck rental, insurance, km mileage, fuel, round trip ferry fare (commercial), and a small lunch for the two volunteers.

2021 estimate for the transport fee is between $1.50 and $3.00 per item. A minimum of $750 is needed to secure an appointment with the Iotron facility. The club usually has enough participation to meet this requirement. The club kindly contributes funding to the transportation in support of bee health, thus reducing the transport fee on each item. E.g. 1 super = treatment fee $7.50 + transport fee (~ $1.75) = $9.25/super. We rely on your shipping form to track your equipment and calculate fees.

Your Payment: The CRBA carries the initial cost, then members collectively reimburse the club for their share through the Iotron coordinator. Payment by e-transfer, cash or cheque (cheques payable to Capital Region Beekeepers Association). Submit your payment by e-transfer or drop off to the Iotron coordinator. Payments are bundled and given to the CRBA Treasurer. Payment receipts must be requested. Iotron issues a proof of processing certificate that we forward to the participants.

Location: Provided by email to members
Loading/drop-off date: Sunday, February 28th, 7am-9.30pm (bring your completed shipping form)
Iotron trip date: Monday, March 1st
Unload/pick-up date: Tuesday, March 2nd and Wednesday, March 3rd, dawn to dusk

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:

  1. Full name
  2. email address
  3. phone #
  4. Equipment estimate

Email is preferred but if it’s not your thing, you can call 250-386-5982. Once signed up, we send the information needed and the shipping form. It is also found on the club website. Closer to the trip date we contact participants to confirm their shipping list of equipment.

What to Send: The 2021 price list shows items you can send, and what may be packaged together. Iotron fees are determined by the list above and/or the item’s footprint area on the conveyer tray going into the irradiation machine. 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 first. We can send almost anything, we just need to package it right!

Cutting Corners: It’s tempting to save a few bucks and combine equipment together into one larger item to get charged less. Some combinations may be done within Iotron’s guidelines. Putting too much equipment together will slow the sterilization, your equipment won’t be clean, and only your bees will know for sure. The penetrating electron beam is slowed by material types and density as it passes through the equipment. An item with many or mixed layers is just too dense, and it will not be fully sterilized. Be kind to your bees and do it right.

2020 Iotron price list (2 passes @ 15 kGy):

  • Supers (deep, dadant, etc.) (fee based on a Langstroth footprint dimension): $7.50 each
  • Nuc box hive: $7.50 each
  • Top bar hive (cost based on its footprint on the Iotron conveyer tray): TBD
  • Bottom board: $3.75 each
  • Outer/telescoping cover: $3.75 each
  • Inner covers (3 pack): $3.75/pkg
  • Frames (2 pack): $4.38/pkg
  • Queen excluders (5 pack): $3.75/pkg
  • Other (please describe; tools, containers, observation hive, topbar frame slats, bee suits = $7.50 each, see FAQs): TBD
  • Pollen (tightly packed to 11cm in height or less): $1.25/kg
  • Liquid honey (packed at 2cm in height or less): $1.25/kg
  • Empty pallet: $25.00 per pallet

All items are placed on a conveyer tray that passes through the irradiation unit two times at 15 kGy irradiation levels. Pricing is partly based on an item’s footprint area when placed on the conveyer tray.

How to package your items: Your equipment is hand loaded/unloaded four times. Please keep this in mind when you prepare your equipment – make sure items are snuggly wrapped, well taped, and impressively labelled.

  • Form: Complete and print your shipping form. Assess your equipment and decide what to send, the shipping form helps to track this. Dry out equipment if it’s wet (even outdoors with a tarp and some air circulation helps). Remove anything rotting or nasty.
  • Package: A few days before the trip, wrap each item in plastic (i.e. large garbage bags). Secure well with packing tape/duct tape. If frames are inside a super, run tape around the super crosswise to the frames to stop them from shifting about. Cover sharp corners. No ropes and no bungee cords.
  • Label: Clearly label each item on the top with your info – visible and rain proof.
    • Write on the tape using permanent marker or print LARGE labels
    • Write CRBA – Name, Phone number, Items count (see below for a visual). If something if fragile, label the heck out of it.
    • Please, no envelope return address labels etc, they aren’t very visible – we use the labels to organize the equipment for pick up. This often happens in the dark.
  • Drop Off: Finalize your shipping form and bring it with your equipment to the truck on loading day.
How to mark/label your equipment in preparation for sending to the Iotron

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, but you can send honey frames as 2-frame packages; see the FAQs.

No live insects or rotting materials: Please no decomposing larvae, animal infestations, etc – the facility requests tidy, self-contained equipment.


  • Definitely 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 (did I mention that already…). 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 under night lights or at arm’s length.
  • 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.

Frequently asked questions

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