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I have a hive that was removed from someone's garden shed, so the comb is from their previous home, with honey and brood included. I've been keeping an eye on them since they arrived about 2.5 weeks ago, but they aren't doing well at all. Their queen died, they refused to make a new queen cell after I put frames of eggs in and I think they just balled the queen I purchased. I've also noticed they are getting overrun by wax moths (I had to scrape out a huge nest full of larva from the bottom). I can also see several have wing deformations due to varroa mites. I probably have about 3-4 frames worth of bees left in this hive.
Should I risk combining it with a stronger hive (I had success last year with the newspaper method)? My worry is they will bring with them the mites and the wax moths. Or should I let the hive die out on its own (which could take several more weeks as they have emerging brood still coming out).
 

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If I let them die on their own, should I worry about wax moths moving into my nearby hives? The others nearby are far stronger, but I do have a nuc that while strong now, could get overrun if attacked by wax moths.
 

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Shake them out and treat comb for wax moths. Put the comb in storage for use next spring. Wax moths are always in or around honey bee colonies, when the colonies are healthy they keep the eggs cleaned out of the colony and the moths can't get started. Only when the colony becomes weak, and the house cleaners can't properly do their job, do you see wax moth larvae in a colony.
 

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If you do mite treatment and not a tf like myself here then go ahead to combine with
your strongest hive. After all the broods emerged from these comb then do the treatment that
follows. Inside a strong hive the bees will clean out the wax moth maggots. The only time when
wax moths get to the comb is when the hive is severely weakened. Don't give them too much free
room to get to the comb. Compacted the bees into a hive so that they can guard the comb and
broods. Combining is an option to have more bees in the hive too.
And if you are part of the tf group then don't combine because the mites could over run your existing strong
colony. I use the constant mite removal management method to reduced the mite population to less than 1% now. After
that it is queen rearing time to further give them a brood break to take out the mites approaching winter time.
 

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No! Do not combine them - or even shake them out close enough to where your healthy bees are.

Put a robbing screen on ASAP so your bees (or other feral or managed bees colonies) can't rob them out and bring whatever troubles they have back to your hives while you work out what to do.

The fact that they didn't make a queen when offered a frame with eggs is curious. Maybe they don't think they are queenless? Did you see them ball the new queen? Or was it a normal introduction that just didn't seem to take off?

What makes you think they are queenless now? Lack of eggs? Lack of visible larvae? Lack of newly capped brood? Lack of eggs, assuming you can usually see them easily, of course is the strongest sign. Lack of the other two, however may indicate a disease interrupting the normal brood development sequence. And that could indicate they have a foul brood disease. Do know the FB symptoms to look for?

I'd kill the mites with MAQS right away- it's a short and pretty effective cure. That should reduce the DWV symptom expression, at least for the time being. But I think DWV can persist at a low level even within colonies with good mite control; apparently it can remain in reservoirs in the combs, probably in bee bread or pollen stores. MAQS will also take care of tracheal mites, which though much less common than formerly, are still around.

I think you have some more detective work ahead of you to find out what's really going on with this colony before you can safely add or combine these bees with your own. The "free bees" from cut-outs and swarms can turn out to be much more costly than you expect. Even ones that settle in well and appear healthy and expanding can have bring new problems into your apiary.

I wish you good luck.

Nancy
 
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