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Discussion Starter #1
You'll remember I lost a weak hive to wax moths about a month ago. After the fact, I hung that wax moth attractant in the 2 litre bottle that someone had posted the recipe for. It works really well--everyday there's more wax moths trapped. But. . .today--only two weeks after inspecting and finding all well--I walked back by my girls to do my daily inspection for garden spiders and noticed that there was no activity at the entrance of one of my hives. Put my ear against the box and heard a hum, but not very strong, so I lifted the outer cover and first thing I saw--wax moth. Put my veil on and went in to find a total mess plus wasps and yellow jackets! Really upset 'cause I didn't see this one coming. I did notice there were a lot more yellow jackets than usual this year but figured it was just nature's cycle and the bees would take care of themselves. They looked all right two weeks ago--hive was clean, not a lot of brood but good brood placed in tight circles on both sides of four frames. It actually looked a lot like my two queener. Even yesterday when I did my spider check, things looked normal at the entrance. I checked my three remaining hives and they're just bustling with an active population. What would cause this? Did the wasps or yellow jackets kill a lot of bees leaving the hive open to wax moths, or did the wax moths invade first? If they did, what was the cause of the rapid drop in bee population?
 
J

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Wax moths certainly do NOT kill bees or
even bother an otherwise healthy or
strong colony.

They move in and make a mess of comb
after the colony is weakened and
doomed.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I guess I didn't make myself clear. I know that wax moths do not kill bees; that wax moths take over when the hive is so weak it cannot defend itself. What I was asking is, is it possible that the yellow jackets invaded and killed off--or chased off--the bees (I found no piles of dead bees or anything like that)? If that is not possible, where did the bees go, leaving the hive open to invasion by the wax moths, since the hive was well populated two weeks ago?
 

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Tia,
I find most hives lost, and then devestated by moths, can be blamed on swarming and the inability of the hive to successfully raise a new queen. If you could look back 30 days ago, your hive probably swarmed, or the queen killed outright, and the bees have been dwindling ever since. This has been some time in the making. Take this as a learning point.

When was the last time you have seen the queen?
When was the last time you have seen eggs/brood. And are they possibly drones from a drone layer?
You may also have a weak colony from other factors such as pesticides, failing queen, too much comb area for the bees to defend, etc. I have seen rather strong hives not defend comb and once the wax moths are taking hold, its a real battle. Some hives almost do nothing untill its to late. Bad genetics I suppose.

Try to piece together and learn from this loss. Being a better beekeeper in the future has alot to do with learning from mistakes. I have combined three hives and lost another from this very same thing. I do not look at all my hives very often, and this is something that happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Okay, my thorough inspection was on August 7, right after I cleaned up the first hive destroyed by wax worms. My note regarding this hive is, "no honey to speak of in supers, but honey and pollen in brood boxes. Spotty brood; lots of bees." I didn't see the queen, but when I looked at my two queener and saw the same thing there, I wasn't worried; I figured it was just that time of year for brood rearing to slow down (I know--I have to get better at spotting the queen. Then my notes could be more complete). I took the empty super off at that time, but I think the mistake I made is after I had extracted the supers from other hives on August 8, I gave one of those extracted supers back to this hive to clean out. Maybe it was too much hive for them to protect! Bjorn's statement got me thinking: <I have seen rather strong hives not defend comb and once the wax moths are taking hold, its a real battle. Some hives almost do nothing untill its to late. Bad genetics I suppose> This is the same hive I had trouble with last year: they had swarmed and the hive was left queenless resulting in laying workers. On June 1 I shook the hive out and installed a new queen On June 7 I went back in and the queen was still in her cage, so I released her. On June 14, I found a wax worm infestation just starting so I started going in every other day and removing any signs of wax worms until June 28 when all looked well. Now this year, same problem. Bad genes you think?
 

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Do you have AFB or EFB? Those diseases will cause spotty brood and the wax worms will start up. You might have that in your comb and it just keeps reinfecting the hive. Then again bad genes. Try a completely different race of bees that are known to be hygienic.
Good luck.
Dan
 

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Discussion Starter #9
God, bjerm! Don't wish that on me! After reading your post, I looked up the symptoms of AFB and EFB just to refresh my memory. None of those symptoms are present in the hive. It is redolent of good honey with no foul smell at all and I saw nothing unusual regarding cappings or larva. The frames are in the freezer right now, and I will recheck them when I take them out tomorrow, but I really don't think I have a foulbrood situation. If I did, wouldn't I have transmitted it to my other healthy hives by way of my hive tool and such?
 

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I don't wish that on anyone, sorry if I upset you. Just checking the possibilities. Another one is mites. The queen might be cutting back now getting ready for winter plus not much honey coming in. And yes you can spread the disease with the hive tool. Using soap and water between hives usually gets rid of the transmission of the disease. But that's only if you have it. The bee inspectors in my area carry a bucket with soapy water in it and use it if they find a hive with the disease, then rinse off the hive tool with plan water.
Dan
 

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> If I did, wouldn't I have transmitted it to my other healthy hives by way of my hive tool and such?

The research I've seen says that 10 to 20 percent of hives with no symptoms of AFB have enough spores in them to culture AFB, so no, it's doubtful that a strong healthy hive will get it from just a hive tool.
 

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You said it looked good 2 weeks earlier, and there were no piles of dead bees. did they just up and leave? did you upset them in any way? (im all freaked out on that bee folklore post)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I don't know how I possibly could've upset them. I always speak very nicely to them and breakdown all the garden spider webs so they won't get caught up. All my hives are very calm, and although George Imirie says you should not anthropomorphize (sic) the lovely ladies, I do believe they know me. That's why I mentioned the yellow jackets and the wasps--I thought maybe their constant efforts to gain entry to the hive may have cause the hive to abscond. I was watching my strongest hive today and there was one of those black & white wasps trying to get in. My ladies pushed him out a couple of times, but he finally gained entry when "no one was looking." I waited to see if the wasp would get thrown out, but he didn't. It's so hot out, I hate to put on entrance reducers, but maybe it's the way to go.
 

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I heard the larva from the small hive beetle looks like wax moth worms. Are you sure your colonies are not infested with the beetle?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Definitely not SHB (thank God). One of our members across the river is the first to get SHB in this area. We got a chance to check out her hives and see the varmints first hand.
 

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The same thing happened to me, but not as bad. I had a hive go queenless and then to laying workers. During this time I was taking capped brood,larve and eggs from other hives. Hoping that the bees would raise their own. When removing the frames from the other hives I would bring the bees with them. I did notice that wax moths were on 1 frame facing the outside of the hive. I have ended up scraping off most of the comb on the outside of this frame removing the wax moths. All the other frames looked good. At last check I now have a queen laying a good pattern and no wax moths.
 
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