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Thread: Lost both hives

  1. #1
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    Default Lost both hives

    I went in day before yesterday and fixed some comb issues, they were not too bad, now I wish I'd left them alone. That afternoon they were bearding pretty good so I left them for a couple of days. Went out there this after noon and maybe 200 or less bees in each hive, along with a few bumble bees, and SHB larva by the millions covering everything inside both hives, a little capped honey left, but brood comb and chambers empty and the wax combs look melted and eaten and a gross mess. I'm assuming I can clean the hives up and re use next year? These were package bees.

    I have seem a few SHB's around, but the bees had been managing them fine. Did my going in upset them enough to make the leave and the SHB take over?

    I've got one other hive, it's about a mile away at my father's house, a swarm I captured.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    Sounds to me like the hives got slimed by SHB larvae. It takes more than a couple of days for the beetle eggs to hatch into larvae and slime the combs like that, so your going in didn't suddenly draw beetles to the hives; they were already there, probably from the start. Did those hives have any beetle traps?

    Yes, you can clean up the hive and reuse it next year. If there is any comb you can save, especially if it has pollen in it, freeze it and then use it as bait in your jar traps for your remaining hive.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    You can freeze the combs you wish to keep for a few days and kill whatever pest eggs and larva there are. New bees next spring should be able to clean and repair the combs. After removing the comb from the freezer, I'd apply a Bt v. aizawai spray to deter wax moth damage to stored comb.
    Graham
    . . . . . . "those who want to see, can see". - - [Oldtimer - 2016]

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    I don't think it is you going in that caused them to fled.
    I think it is the SHB infestation that caused them to took off. In the
    future do more frequent hive inspection to manage them better.
    So why wait until the next season to reuse this clean up hive box? Just go
    over to your father's house to make a hive split. At least the feral hive will
    have a better chance at defending their home. Let them clean up whatever
    usable comb are remaining.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    Quote Originally Posted by will52100 View Post
    I went in day before yesterday and fixed some comb issues, they were not too bad, now I wish I'd left them alone. That afternoon they were bearding pretty good so I left them for a couple of days. Went out there this after noon and maybe 200 or less bees in each hive, along with a few bumble bees, and SHB larva by the millions covering everything inside both hives, a little capped honey left, but brood comb and chambers empty and the wax combs look melted and eaten and a gross mess. I'm assuming I can clean the hives up and re use next year? These were package bees.

    I have seem a few SHB's around, but the bees had been managing them fine. Did my going in upset them enough to make the leave and the SHB take over?

    I've got one other hive, it's about a mile away at my father's house, a swarm I captured.
    I don't understand your timeline. You said that you went in 2 days ago, but then you say you left them alone a couple of days. Timing here is important to tell what really happened. Also, you say the brood frames and chamber were empty. If there was no brood and the shb larva did not eat it, which would be evident, then these hives have been planning on absconding for at least 21 days (no capped brood). On the other hand if the brood is being eaten by the SHB, its different. Could be that your comb correction sparked robbing in both hives, which caused the bees to abscond and then the shb slimed them. Since both died out at the same time, I think this is a likely scenario. Also the presence of the bumblebees support robbing. Further, a stressed hive, one that is dealing with shb and varroa is more likely to abscond.

    Be careful splitting this time of year, any weakness is an invitation for a shb overrun

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    I went in on the 24th, about 1pm. I checked them that after noon and they were bearding from the heat I thought. I went down again today, around 4pm, the 26th, and found the slimy mess. I did make a bit of a mess with the first hive, the second not so much. The hives are about 20' apart. I originally installed the bees on May 26, they had capped brood and some capped honey at the tops of the bars. Before I went in they were working on the 10th and 11th frames respectively. There's still some capped honey left.

    What can I do to prevent this in the future?

    The swarm I caught only has 6 combs, no capped brood, and little stores. I will be feeding them and basically leaving them alone. I checked the feeders today and there were 4 SHB in it, looked like the bees drowned them. Anyway, I'm thinking since I've got two quart jar feeders that I need to had a SHB trap under the main comb. Other than that, I plan on leaving them alone.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    In the future go get one of those SHB vsh hygienic queen.
    That will keep the shb under control also. Building a rather strong hive instead of
    2 weaker hives will keep them in check also. Yes, leave the other hive alone until they
    grow stronger in order to make a split with the shbvsh queen. Feeding will help them a lot too.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    I'm guessing from what I've read and researched that I set off a case of robbing. The thing is, it looked like they were taking care of the SHBs, and during inspection and fixing the comb everything looked good. Then a couple days later an ungodly mess.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    Quote Originally Posted by will52100 View Post
    I'm guessing from what I've read and researched that I set off a case of robbing. The thing is, it looked like they were taking care of the SHBs, and during inspection and fixing the comb everything looked good. Then a couple days later an ungodly mess.
    From: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/...eetle.htm#life

    A female small hive beetle may lay 1,000 eggs in her lifetime, although data suggest that the number of eggs produced in one female's lifetime might be upwards of 2,000 (Hood 2004). The majority of these eggs hatch within three days;


    So if robbing was bad and the bees were spending their time defending against robbers, the existing SHB could have had free reign to lay eggs. Also, the SHB lay eggs all along and the bees remove them and the larva as they hatch under normal circumstance.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    Quote Originally Posted by beepro View Post
    In the future go get one of those SHB vsh hygienic queen.
    That will keep the shb under control also.
    Do Tell! A SHB VSH Hygenic Queen? It's the holy grail.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    Quote Originally Posted by will52100 View Post
    I'm thinking since I've got two quart jar feeders that I need to had a SHB trap under the main comb.
    Yes, definitely get a trap set up, or even better, a couple traps. From last week to this week I've seen a big upsurge in the numbers of beetles caught in my traps.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    I will be setting a trap up in the next couple of days, thanks

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    Sorry for your loss.

    Will offer advice for next time. Forgive me for saying it but when I first re-started keeping bees last spring (2015) I had an SHB problem around the first day of summer. Asked for advice and one guy said, "I just keep em strong". It took me a year of pondering just what the heck he meant. I had package bees and "keeping em strong" meant nothing to me at that time.
    It means don't give them too much room to police and defend. Top bar hive...that means you have to be increasing and at the same time keeping them tight enough to patrol, control, and police the SHB. Means you have to be moving the follower boards around as they increase and really keep on top of the hives. Top bars are tough. I have two.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    Thanks, I think I made a couple of mistakes right off the bat. One was location, it's a sheltered area that doesn't get a lot of sun, my thoughts were to protect them during the winter, but we don't get bad ones here in south MS. Another was the first top bar in both hives went too far to the end and they attached comb to the entrance board. Another was the design, since I'm using a bottom board with jars for feeders I left too much space for them. They looked like they were doing fine, but when I went in did a comb correction it probably pushed them over the edge and was the last straw.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    Did you give them too much room because you wanted the bees to have access to the syrup? If so, drill an access hole in your follower board or cut off an inch from the bottom like I do. You can always plug the hole with a cork or screw the bottom on if you need to. That way you can keep the follower tight so the bees can't cross comb and will be better able to control SHB's. The bees will find the syrup even if it's at the very back of the hive.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    That and I didn't know exactly how much room to give them. The first hives I built only had 3 feeder mounts, the last couple I built have 4, and I moved the follower board a bit closer.

    Good info on the follower board. I'm thinking a 1" hole so I can cork it if needed. I will likely do that to the first hives once I get them cleaned out and moved to a better location. I'm thinking under a young ash tree in partial shade. It's on a hill, so if need be I'll put up a wind break for winter. Also has the advantage of being a lot closer to the house.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    I have two hives with 3 jar mounts and they work just fine, although I do like the greater flexibility the 4 mount hives give me, so I think your problem was not having traps in place from the beginning and not keeping the followers close. The first jar mount closest to the entrance is always a trap in my hives. So long as your followers allow the bees to access the syrup on the other side, you should be fine feeding from the 2nd or 3rd jar mount. Good luck! Unfortunately, losing hives is part of being a beekeeper.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    Thanks, it's been an education so far, hopefully I can learn fast enough to avoid loosing more.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Wolff View Post
    I have two hives with 3 jar mounts .
    howdy Jon, do you have a picture of the jar mounts? I am having a hard envisioning them and how they work to catch SHB and also feed. Thanks - chuck.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Lost both hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Jachens View Post
    howdy Jon, do you have a picture of the jar mounts? I am having a hard envisioning them and how they work to catch SHB and also feed. Thanks - chuck.
    Here you go, Chuck.
    http://imgur.com/a/3YTzK?

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