Lost hive to SHB, now what?
My strongest hive has been completely taken over by SHB--just discovered it Thursday, but am out of town until Monday, so can't deal with it until then. This hive had been in this place for 2 years, last year had a few SHB but nothing serious. I had 3 medium supers with one hive body, and it looks like larvae everywhere. I have had smaller collections of bees, usually queenless, that got overrun with SHB, but never a strong hive. In fact, I just looked at them a week ago, and didn't think much of the number of beetles that I saw. I probably had about 60 pounds of honey in that hive. I took about 6 frames out that didn't seem too ruined and put them in the freezer. The rest of the frames that I removed went into chlorox water. My question is, what do I do with the frames with honey that went into the clorox water...can I rinse it off and feed it back to other bees. And is the honey in the freezer salvageable?? I know one thing, all of my hives are going to have West Beetle traps in the future--it just happened so suddenly!!
it would be intesting if you could do a post morteum on the hive from top to bottom...
first I would suggest to you the the shb is simply a scavanger that is taking advantage of opportunity. I suggest the post morteum simply because I have similar experience... here let me describe it to ya': I find on some fairly strong hives, ususally 2 years old or older, that in late summer the bottom box becomes plugged with pollen (which the girls evidently don't denfend like brood or honey), the brood nest moves upward (typically into the second and third box), the shb gets established at the very bottom of the box and push the hive right out the top of the box. at some stage it appears (there may be brood remaining at this point in time) like the hive simply abdoned the nest and there may be a bit of casual robbing taking place. most times, even if I catch it quite late, there is still evidence of quite a bit of pollen in the frames of the bottom box.
as to the honey plus clorox I would air it out and feed it back to the bees. most times in regards to salvaging frames the freezer is your best and quickest remedy.
Howdy Jon --
Chlorox kills larvae slowly, but after it kills all or most of them, spray with garden hose
and water to remove dead culprits, slime, and chemical. Then the bees can use trhe honey fine. The same rinsing of frozen frames will also remove the larvae and slime. Fine for bees.
This hive has now been examined from top to bottom. This is a 1 hive body, 3 super hive that I have had no queen excluder. In fact they had moved up the hive with the brood, so much so that a week before, I had changed the top super with the second, because it had a good bit of brood in it, and most of the brood was then in the 1st and 2nd supers. There was basically nothing in the hive body, except pollen, and no honey, no brood, but many! hive beetles. Those have now all gone to hive beetle heaven, and basically I have sanitized honey back on one super, and sanitized fames back in the hive. However, there is no sign of a queen, so I am probably in trouble with that hive going into the winter this late. There do seem to be a good number of bees left, so we shall see what happens. I do think the problem was likely not having the queen excluder on. I like the theory of not having it there, but I think them moving up may have been the problem.....Anybody have any thoughts? Jon
a queen excluder would have likely kept them from brooding upwards but it would not have kept them from plugging the bottom box with pollon... which would have highly encouraged the girls to swarm and likely once the hive swarmed and lost substantial field force would have meant the shb would do just what it did without the queen excluder.
just my take...
as to the queen, yea or nay.... the hive is likely so demoralized that egg production is entirely ceased. if you have goodly number of bees, feed liberally, give a frame of very young brood (at the center of the new brood nest) and see what happens. if the bee draw a new queen cell the the old queen is caput, if all of a sudden you see new eggs and larvae appearing you know that the old queen is still present.
at your location you still have plenty of time to salvage the hive. you will likely need to feed them regularly to keep them alive until spring time.
if you are experiencing a 'problem' like I have here (described above) then the best remedy if caught early on (hint: the bottom box is very light) is to reverse boxes placing the brood at the bottom and the pollen ladened box above.
I suspect a significant part of my problem is that the general area here produces a great deal more pollen than nectar.
I had a similar situation with a strong hive where the queen turned into a drone layer. There were 3 frames that had at least 20 to 30 adult SHB on them. The frames were covered with bees, but they totally ignored the beetles. I looked closely but did not see any SHB larva. Apparently the bees hauled them out. I gently shook the bees off the frames (SHB remained) and gave them new clean frames and a new queen. I never thought about them being "demoralized". But apparently they don't protect empty comb nearly as much as they do comb with brood in it.
I also wonder if SHB larvae that can get under capped brood undetected by the bees can do a lot of tunnelling and damage large amounts of brood prior to leaving the hive to pupate. Hygeinic bees may haul these larva out and make for a spotty pattern which might appear to the beekeeper to be a failing queen.