Honey Bee Producer Guide to the National Bee Farm-level Biosecurity Standard
Appendix F: Equipment, Storage, and Extraction Facility: Cleaning and Disinfection

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Disinfectants are chemical compounds that are applied to inanimate (non-living) objects to destroy or irreversibly inactivate disease-causing organisms.

Disinfection refers to the inactivation of disease-causing organisms and includes, but is not limited to, chemicals, heat, and ultraviolet light.

Product Regulation

Health Canada regulates the registration of disinfectants in Canada and provides a drug identification number (DIN), listed on the disinfectant container, prior to their marketing.

Selecting a Disinfectant

Disinfectants are evaluated by Health Canada, using strict criteria; however, efficacy is determined under controlled laboratory conditions. On a farm site, disinfectants are to be used according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Disinfectant selection is based on a variety of factors, such as the following:

  • the chemical properties of the disinfectant;
  • the type(s) of organism targeted for inactivation;
  • the cleanliness of materials to be disinfected;
  • the composition (e.g. wood, metal, rubber) of the surface to be disinfected;
  • the temperature of surfaces and disinfectant;
  • contact time;
  • concentration;
  • application method;
  • the presence or use of other chemicals;
  • pH;
  • characteristics of the water (presence of dissolved solids, degree of contamination);
  • environmental considerations (the presence of streams and wildlife); and
  • cost.

These factors will affect the likelihood of a disinfectant performing as indicated by the manufacturer.

Choose broad-spectrum disinfectants with minimal toxicity that are easy to apply and that are effective under a variety of environmental conditions.

Disinfectant Storage

Disinfectants have a different shelf life, depending on the chemical composition of the product, and often have a best before date. Chemicals degrade over time, reducing the effectiveness of the product; this often accelerates after a product has been opened. Use unexpired disinfectants, and ensure lids, tops, and bags are securely fastened for storage. Store in cool, dry, dark areas or according to manufacturer's recommendations.

Disinfectant Application

Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for application, paying strict attention to the concentration required and contact time. Some disinfectants require rinsing as their final step. Follow local government regulations regarding the application of disinfectants to ensure compliance with environmental legislation.

Once disinfectants are mixed with water or other chemicals, their shelf life decreases dramatically, and thus require regular replenishing. This may be daily for some products and weekly for others.

Disinfectants are most effective when applied to clean dry surfaces. Organic material (litter, soil, manure) on equipment, tools, gloves, and structures significantly reduces the activity of disinfectants, so these surfaces must be cleaned prior to disinfectant application.

  • Emphasize dry cleaning to reduce the time required for wet cleaning.
  • Provide supplementary heat to raise facility temperatures to allow wet cleaning and disinfection to occur.
  • Focus on critical areas where bees or bee equipment are stored to reduce the volume of water applied.
  • Dry clean the ventilation system.
  • Add propylene glycol, and use machines that are CAPA ble of heating water to increase the effectiveness of detergents and disinfectants and to prevent wash and disinfectant solutions from freezing.
  • Thoroughly dry the equipment or facility after any cleaning stage to enable pathogen inactivation.

Cold and Wet Weather

  • Raise the temperature in the facility.
  • Use warm to hot water when using detergents and disinfectants.
  • Increase the concentration and surface contact time of the disinfectant. Cold temperatures, rain, and wet surfaces can significantly reduce the concentration of cleaning and disinfectant solutions.

Additional Measures

  • Be aware that steam cleaning can reduce the amount of water required and increase temperature to reduce pathogen load.
  • Consult with commercial cleaning companies, disinfectant manufacturers, industry experts, and veterinary professionals on sanitation measures when environmental conditions impair routine cleaning and disinfection.

Further Information

Health Canada

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