For some reason, I've noticed far more SHB this spring, far earlier than I have in the past. I'm not sure why, considering that we've had a winter that has been colder than in the past few years. Maybe it is because I've got more hives than in the past, and they all survived. One of my hives had 15-20 beetles in it that I saw, and I've never seen that before, ever, even in fall. A couple have a few shb worms on the bottom boards, I suppose that is a good sign that the bees are dealing with them. I haven't seen any worms in the hives.
Anyway, I have a small observation hive in the house, 1 med, 1 deep frame. They made it through the winter with maybe a softball size cluster, and survived on less than 7 lbs of honey. I've noticed a few beetles all winter long, hanging out where the bees couldn't get them.
Well, the hive made it to spring. They had virtually NO stores left, no honey, no pollen. Well, with a really nice week, things really went well for them. They packed away almost a whole medium frame of pollen, and put away quite a bit of honey. I've been trying to suppliment honey. They've been able to lay eggs in both frames, and most of that is capped now.
Early this week I noticed agitation. Then I noticed them ripping out larvae, and then some evil beetle worms. There isn't enough honey for them to slime the hives, but it looks like the worms get under the wax and will tunnel, killing brood, chewing up the wax. The bees can tell where they are, as there will be a 1/2dollar size section where the bees are going nuts. Then, while the bees are distracted, I could see some beetles flitting from cell to cell (laying eggs in there?). What a trouble!
I think that they will make it, but they are pretty stressed right now. The weather turned, and they are low on honey again, they are fighting off the invasions of the evil worms, I'm not seeing quite as many bees going crazy on the brood. There are a couple of poop streaks on the inside of the hive, a sign of stress.
Before it started, I got a couple of pictures. They aren't the best, since I'm still figuring out how to photograph macro through plexiglass. The first is a spot of some eggs. The evil beetle must have crammed her evil little butt into a tiny crack to deposit these. They were hatched a few days later, and I think even now there is little offspring in that area.
Some SHB eggs...
One of the she-devils hiding in a cell...
It has been a little nerve-wracking. I don't want to have to start them over, but if I lose them, its not a huge deal. It has been fascinating watching them fight off these infections and how they progress. I think (and hope) that my full size hives can handle them a little better, they have a much higher population.