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This is my second summer to keep. Last summer I started with 1 colony. They made it through the winter, but by spring the colony was not queen- right. I replaced with a new package and queen(Russian) and added an additional colony (Italian).
Both colonies seemed to thrive however, upon inspection about 3 weeks in, the Italian colony appeared to have a poor pattern of cells and they seemed to be drone cells. By that time, I could not locate the queen and noticed small white lavrae at the entrance to the hive. That colony did not survive.
I've also noticed, most recently (this week) that there are a few hive beetles in the boxes.

The other (Russian) colony seems to be doing well. I've added a queen excluder and additonal hive body about 3 weeks ago. The bees are building out the comb and busy filling it with honey. Those bees are washboarding as we speak. It's well after dark and they're still at it!

I noticed earwigs in the cover of the Russian colony.

In addition, of the few frames of honey I took this spring from the colony I had (yes, they still had plenty) I've noticed some wax moth. I do not have freezer space to freeze them.

OK, up until now, I've used no chemicals. the only thing I've done is used crisco patties last fall.

I want to treat for what I see but also for prevention. I really want to see this colony survive the winter.

Any advise is helpful. Do I treat now? Do I wait until I've taken any honey?
Is there a standard preventive program that you use? I prefer obviously to do this as non-chemically as possible.

Thanks in advance for any help.
 

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I am also new(3 years) and I had similar problems. My first year I started out with a very expensive mail order package. The queen was't accepted. My replacement queen ended up laying a nice pattern of drone cells. Year 2: Bought 5 packages, went into winter with 1 very strong hive, 1 average hive, and 2 nucs. The strong hive died, the average hive made it and 2 nucs made it. Not what I thought would happen! So now I plan on going into winter with at least 15 nucs. So I guess my advice is to not put all your eggs in one basket, or all your bees in one hive.
 

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Hickory--I'm not quite sure what you want to treat your healthy Russian hive FOR. You say they're doing well--I don't think earwigs cause bees much trouble. A strong hive seems to be the best cure for SHB--there's enough bees to chase out the beetles. You can buy or make traps for the beetles if you're worried--just check out the Pests and Disease part of the forum for tons of advice.

I have Russians too, and they seem pretty good at chasing intruders around even on the outside of the hive.

Muskrat--I'm pretty new at this myself, but did your really strong hive have enough stores? They'd need a lot more honey than the weaker ones, and might have starved. Another option was that there might have been a mite infestation--the more bees, the quicker the mites can spread, and they may have taken over. Were the bees dead facing inward in the cells?
 

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Tara- The strong hive had lots of honey. The only thing that I remember is that the bottom board was completely covered with dead bees and the bees on the top box were split in two. I thought that they probably had to many mites and to much moisture. I still had honey frames from this hive in June that I had no use for until someone gave me the advice to put the old honey under the brood chamber. Apparently bees hate having honey underneath the brood. It worked like a charm.
 

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The bees on the top box was split in 2 & dead bees completely covered the bottom board????....That sounds like a whole different problem to me...you sure there wasnt any robbing going on around that hive???
 

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I'd assumed "the bees on the top box were split in two" meant there were two separate clusters.

If the bees were literally cut in half, that would indicate something dire!
 

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Could that hive have been hit by wasps? I hear it doesn't take long at all for an entire population to get destroyed once the wasps take hold.
 
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