Usually when you get the chance to purchase used equipment it's because someone is getting out of keeping bees. This should naturally send off red flags. Why are they selling their stuff? Has disease wiped them out? Is it the beekeepers health? Did they use strong chemicals in there equipment?
Don't be afraid to ask
A lot of these questions can probably be answered by the person selling stuff. But it's good to go into the barter knowing what to look for. The major disease to look for would be foulbrood. Foulbrood is the most wide spread bee disease. It is a spore that infects the larva at a young age eventually spreading and killing the colony. To learn more about the two types of foulbrood (American/European) Click here.
To avoid purchasing this equipment there are a few things a person can look for. As you can see in the picture on the right. The inside of the box has been scorched by a torch. This is one of the treatment to get ride of foulbrood spores. Another thing you may see is boxes that have been painted on the inside. This seals in the spores so the bees can't come in contact with the deadly disease. It's best to avoid buying anything that is to hard to clean. Frames with comb would fall into this category. Comb can hold diseases for a long time and it's easily replaced by bees in spring.
This disease became highly resistant to common disinfecting and can remain alive for up to 40 years in comb and honey. Therefore the only treatment to be considered effective was to burn all contaminated equipment. Terramycin is the only drug approved for use as a preventive step. Terramycin does not kill the spores.
What is safe Now some used equipment is safe to purchase. I recently purchased a few used pieces. Such as 100 pounds of never used wax foundation ( different sizes) that had been stored and is still good. I also got a couple hundred new Peirco plastic frames that had never been used along with 2 complete Ross rounds sets and their boxes. Here is what I found on cleaning bee equipment. Clean bee equipment
Feel free to comment about any used equipment you have come across or purchased.