Please help, I have a mess!
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Lackawanna County, PA, USA
    Posts
    20

    Default Please help, I have a mess!

    My third attempt at beekeeping. The problem is that last year, I could not take delivery of new packages because of a broken ankle in April and was literally laid up until Aug.
    By then many bees, wasps etc going into and out of the hives. Robbers only,no one setting up new homes.
    My 3 new packages for pickup in the AM, so out of work early to try and prepare. We still had measurable snow last night.
    The frames are a mess. Some contain what looks like tracks of some insect critter through the wax combs. Others have large rice shaped cocoons, all over. I do not see any sign of life and they appear dry. But the webs remain sticky as if new. I'm guessing some sort of wax eating critter. At one point I did place par-moth in the hives, but that was long before my medical issues.


    What do I do for tomorrow, before new my bees? Do I have to replace all the frames, scrape them clean, or will the girls make a clean house?

    IMG_0185.jpgIMG_0180.jpgIMG_0182.jpgIMG_0185.jpg

    I'm also concerned about the new girls freezing in their new homes. It's supposed to be in the 50s-60 the next few days in NEPA, and I can't knit that many long johns. What to do?

    Please help.
    Regards,
    Steve

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Garden City, Kansas, USA
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Please help, I have a mess!

    Wax Moth. I got them last year. You have to clean them completely out and make sure they're all dead... I have no idea if they would still be alive or not, but I wouldn't take any chances. Seems like a lot of work to ask of a new hive to clean all of that up, but I'm no expert. Those moths will cocoon in cracks and crevices. The first time I cleaned them out, I missed a few that were hiding well. Turn every frame inside/out.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: Please help, I have a mess!

    The cocoons are wax moths; scrape them off.

    Choose the best three sets of combs (enough for one box for each package, or one box with some frames taken out to accommodate a frame feeder) and hive your bees tomorrow. If you don't have enough drawn comb that's still decent, then use scraped-off frames to make up the difference.

    For the rest of the frames, scrape and clean the really foul stuff off. Wash frames and foundation if you feel they need more clean-up than just a scrape. Buy some beeswax and add a generous re-coating and have them ready for the bees when they need them. If you had to give the bees some scraped-off but not re-waxed frames just to fill out the boxes when they were hived, swap out those (assuming the bees aren't working on them by then) for ones you've re-waxed. Then re-wax the ones you take out. Bees will fix up somewhat damaged comb, but why not just start fresh if things are really riddled with wax moth holes (and wax moth poop.) If you keep feeding them they will draw out fresh wax.

    Buy some new frames and/or foundations to replace any that you deem just too gross for re-use. But don't abandon stuff just 'cause it looks icky. Scrape (wash as needed) and re-waxing fixes things up nicely.

    Washing can be done with hot water (and washing soda, well-rinsed, of course, if you go that route.) Give the frames a day in the sun to dry off. Plastic foundation can be snapped-out so it doesn't warp in the sun. In a pinch, remember some people use foundationless frames just with starter strips rather than foundation. These should be placed between fully-drawn frames to get the best, straightest drawn out. You can also temporarily run with one less frame than the proper number, if all else fails. Keep all the frames pushed tightly together in the center of the box.

    I'd also give the boxes and bases a nice clean-up, too. Even just a quick hot wash and scrubbing followed by sunny drying for a couple of hours. If you start cleaning them up early (or even tonight), they'll be dry by early-mid-afternoon and you can hive your bees.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Forsyth, Missouri
    Posts
    667

    Default Re: Please help, I have a mess!

    Steve
    Clean up the worst of the frames with a dust, if they only have a few lines like picture #2 place them in the middle.
    The ones that are bad towards the out side of the box.
    Scrape ALL of the cocoons out of every thing.
    After installing the packages Feed, Feed, Feed.
    If you can store them in side over night.
    Good Luck.
    Zone 6b 1400'

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Lackawanna County, PA, USA
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Please help, I have a mess!

    Please explain "washing soda" and thanks to all for your help.
    Steve

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Lackawanna County, PA, USA
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Please help, I have a mess!

    I can store them over night in my outbuilding.
    Steve

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,527

    Default Re: Please help, I have a mess!

    Washing soda is sodium carbonate. You can find it in the laundry products section of your local supermarket.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: Please help, I have a mess!

    On rereading I wanted to point out that washing soda should only be used on scraped foundations, and/or boxes if they are especially foul, not on drawn comb that's going to reused. I wouldn't ever wash drawn combs. Drawn combs are either good-enough for the bees to use as is (even if not perfect), or they must be scraped off and the bees allowed to make new ones.

    Washing soda comes in yellow box, in the laundry product aisle. It is pretty strong so plan on copious rinsing. Plain hot water and a scrub brush may do just as well, with no risk of residues, even on your lawn.

    Nancy

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    5,604

    Default Re: Please help, I have a mess!

    Other than scraping off the cocoons I wouldn't worry about cleaning up any of the frames, unless they look a lot worse than your attached pics.

    I've had swarms move into equipment that had comb with much more damage than this and the bees clean it right up. You would be amazed what it looks like after a week of housecleaning.

    If the comb is covered in webbing and trails cut all over through the comb it might be better just to cut it out. But if most of yours appear similar to the pics, let the bees clean it up.

    By the way, if the temps are in the 50+ range the girls will be fine. They will cluster up and maintain an appropriate temperature to begin raising brood.
    To everything there is a season....

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Lackawanna County, PA, USA
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Please help, I have a mess!

    I mistyped, Night time temps are the problem, down in the 30-40 range in NEPA. We had a trace of snow on all surfaces yesterday at 0500 on my way to work. Daytime temps are supposed to be good for the next week.

    What I didn't state was that I use Wooden Frames with plastic inserts.

    NOW, I'm off to Mann Lake for the 3 packages of Girls and I suppose more frame until I can get this medically mandated, then f***ing, never ending cold winter in NEPA (NE Pennsylvania).

    Seriously,Thank you all for your help!
    Steve

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Posts
    349

    Default Re: Please help, I have a mess!

    Some mixed input above, so use your best judgement.

    The bees are certainly capable of cleaning out the moths and moth larvae, but if your frames are too damaged they may not be able to reuse them for healthy brood as they get mis-shaped.

    If they have slight damage and the cells appear in good shape I'd definitely just throw them in there, but make sure to scrape off anything in the boxes or on the frames.

    If they are absolutely covered and the cells do not appear round, then scrape off the wax and discard it. After I scrape plastic frames I use a slow cooker to melt some beeswax and I literally paint the melted wax back onto the cells. If they are REALLY bad, I have been known to get out the pressure washer - good as new!

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