Questions and Answers with Steritech in Sydney

Steritech ( provide gamma irradiation services in Australia for a wide range of products including bee hives. They are the primary point of contact when irradiating hives infected with American Foul Brood (AFB) in Australia and offer services specifically for beekeepers.

Packaging and shipping of hives for irradiation raises some common questions with some fairly inconsistent answers when discussing with other beekeepers.

The following is the summary of questions and answers (in no particular order) gathered on the 1st of May by Eric (@BBH) after discussions directly with Steritech which will hopefully answer everything you need to know!.. if you have any additional questions please let us know and we can ask next time we are speaking to them!

Q1. What is the cost of treatment for a single hive (1 x box) as compared to a double hive (2 x boxes)?

$10.50 + GST per single hive and $21.00 + GST per double hive

**Q2. What is the maximim size (LxWxD) and weight that you will accept?** > 58 cm wide x 90 cm deep x 230 cm high is the maximum. This means that all types of bee hives and beekeeping equipment can be treated so long as the total weight of the item being treated does not exceed 25 kgs.
**Q3. What packaging do you prefer to receive the hive for treatment packed in and why?** > Using one of our recently released ‘Steritech Bee Cartons’ is much preferred as they are specifically designed to be leak proof (plastic bag lined) whilst also designed to be reused up to five times by apiarists and beekeeping clubs sending items in for treatment. The boxes help to ensure that any chance of mess or clean up in minimised as we just don’t treat beehives and hence wish to ensure that we can do this without any fuss or risk of the bee products being treated contaminating or damaging other items in the plant also being treated.
**Q4. Is it okay to include other beekeeping items that I wish to have sterilised at the same time that I am concerned about, these include my smoker, hive tools, spare queen excluders, etc. all bundled up in a single box for treatment together** > Yes, we are more than happy to accept other beekeeping equipment all wrapped up in plastic lined cardboard box as long as they weighting no more than 25 kgs total for $10.50 + GST per box. Just a reminder though that the maximum dimensions that we can receive are 58 cm wide x 90 cm deep x 230 cm high.
**Q5. Is there anything beekeeping related that you cannot irradiate if I wish to send equipment down for irradiation?** > No, so long as it doesn’t exceed 25 kgs in weight and the maximum dimensions that we can receive are 58 cm wide x 90 cm deep x 230 cm high.
**Q6. I have a small stainless steel honey extractor that I recently purchased that I wish to send down for irradiation to ensure that it is sterilised, it is smaller than your maximum size and weighs less than your maximum weight. Is this something you could irradiate for my peace of mind so I know that it is sterilised and AFB spore free?**

Yes, we are happy to treat any and everything beekeeping related including beekeeping extractors, protective clothing, smokers and tools but again just a reminder than the maximum dimensions that we can receive are 58 cm wide x 90 cm deep x 230 cm high.

**Q7. Is it okay to send bee boxes with frames that may have a small amount of honey in them as long as the packaging I send them down in is lined with a sealed plastic bag to ensure no honey will be split at your facility when the items are being irradiated?** > Our policy is to ask for frames to have been extracted as in this way we are not faced with any chance of leaking honey contaminating other items in for treatment. This said we encourage all beekeepers to wrap their items in for treatment in plastic bags first that are sealed tight before then placing these into cardboard boxes. Using one of our ‘Steritech Bee Cartons’ designed specifically to minimise the risk of any spills or leakages during the treatment process is much preferred as down time associated with cleaning spills and leakages is expensive for us at the facility.
**Q8. Bee pests such as wax month and small hive beetles (SHB) eggs may be present in the hives that are sent for treatment, what is your stance with regards to this?** > We understand the real world challenges that face beekeepers but we cannot accept for treatment bee hives that are slimed by SHB where beetle larvae are active as they easily escape the packaging they are wrapped up in. This all said where beekeepers use one of the ‘Steritech Bee Cartons’ that have a purpose build plastic liner that is sealed up correctly the likelihood that the odd wax month larvae or the like is contained within the packaging is a given. We will not accept any item for treatment that is clearly contaminated with any insect larvae as this insect larvae can escape to contaminate other goods in for treatment.
**Q9. Can you confirm you are able to treat extracted honey and also pollen? What are your requirements when sending these products for treatment?**

Yes, the prices for this are;
<=20 kgs honey $27 + GST ensuring that the container the honey is sent down in is twice the volume of the honey sent to allow for honey expansion as part of the treatment process. Pollen irradiation per m3 is $220 + GST

**Q10. When sending items for treatment, what is the best method of payment?** > Each item sent down for treatment requires the sender to complete a ‘lodgement form’ which includes your details, we accept EFTPOS, cash, cheque, Visa and Mastercard.

The lodgement form can be found online at the following location:

**Q11. Can I send reply paid preprinted consignment notes for the beehives that I have sent down to be returned to me and if so what is the procedure for this?** > Yes, but please telephone us beforehand to arrange for this service
**Q12. What is the average turnaround time to treat a hive once you have received it?** > Seven days from date of delivery. If you are delivering pallets of hives at a time, overnight treatments are possible so that you can drop off one day and collect the next for those that are regionally based to save them having to make two separate trips to our facility.
**Q13. Will an irradiation certificate for proof of treatment be issued as part of the treatment process and if so what do these typically look like?** > Yes, with every job we complete, we automatically create an irradiation certificate that will be supplied to you when your items are returned to you.
**Q14. Is there anything else beekeepers need to be aware of regarding how to do business with you that you would like to share?** > If any beekeeper wishes to call us they are most welcome to do so, our office hours are 0800 – 3.30 Monday – Friday but we close for lunches daily between 12.00 and 12.30. The number to call is (02) 8785 4400, thank you.

While you were there Eric; you didn’t happen to have the brilliant idea of buying a nice big bundle of their fancy/convenient “Steritech Bee Cartons” to sell back here did you?

I can partially respond to that. At the time of writing/responding, the cartons were unfortunately not available in quantity.

It was raised with the local club could use funds to purchase these cartons to assist beekeepers with sending back collected contaminated hive material.

It was also raised with the ACT Chief Vet that these cartons could be made available to those reporting AFB (as one way to provide inventive to report).

Using these cartons isn’t a requirement, it’s their preference. They still accept double wrapped material using the ‘old’ process.