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Author Topic: Very sick hive - what is it, how did it happen?  (Read 1409 times)
thevoice
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« on: January 23, 2009, 10:48:38 PM »

I have a very sick hive.  I'm quite new to beekeeping, but I've managed to work that much out.

It has ants, grubs and cobwebs, but very, very few bees.  I've had some concerns about it for a while, see http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php/topic,18968.msg142091.html  for an old post on that, but it hasn't until now been so clear (to a newbie like me, at least) that the hive is in a really bad way.

I've attached some photos of the hive below, I'd appreciate it if someone more knowledgeable than me could have a look and hazard a guess as to what the initial problem may have been and what may have caused it.
http://greygum.net/bees/web/

Also, what should I do with the hive now?

Cheers
« Last Edit: January 24, 2009, 06:25:22 AM by buzzbee » Logged
kathyp
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2009, 10:59:19 PM »

looks like maybe you went queenless, or the majority of the hive swarmed.  wax moth.  drone cells (?)  looks like one might have been an attempt at a queen cell but the angle is wrong.  looks like there might have been one poor quality  queen cell.

the short answer is that your numbers got so low that they couldn't maintain the hive.  stuff moved in.   

there is still honey, so you can rule out starvation.
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tlynn
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2009, 11:05:16 PM »

Wax moths.  When the hive weakens it opens the door for disease, and opportunists like wax moths get a foothold.  The damage can grow exceptionally fast.  Best bet is to freeze the frames that you can see damage on...hopefully just pollen/honey frames so far.  Get some BT and spray on all frames.  You can spray it on the bees too.  I just wouldn't saturate them.  They are stressed out enough as it is.  BT is a bacterium that kills the wax moth larvae when they consume comb with the bacteria on it, but it won't kill the bigger ones that may be imbedded deep in the pollen.  That's why freezing is most effective to kill the active infestation.  Freeze at least 24 hrs.

Shrink the hive to the frames they can manage.  May have a failing queen and may be able to requeen if you still have sufficient numbers of bees.  Do you have other hives?
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thevoice
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2009, 11:15:55 PM »

Cheers, thanks for the replies.

I'm not sure it's worth worrying about this hive, as there are now so few bees in it - the collapse in numbers in the two weeks since I last opened it has been amazing.  Damage is all over brood frames also.

A beekeeper friend of mine can give me another hive, as he  has too many hives for his hobby (he collected some swarms in spring) and he is trying to reduce the his number of hives.

Could I put a new hive in the same place as the old one, or will it simply get re-infested?  If I cleaned out the current hive, should I just cut everything out?  Are there bacterial problems associate with the moths?

Sorry for all the questions.
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JP
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2009, 12:24:51 AM »

Cheers, thanks for the replies.

I'm not sure it's worth worrying about this hive, as there are now so few bees in it - the collapse in numbers in the two weeks since I last opened it has been amazing.  Damage is all over brood frames also.

a beekeeper friend of mine can give me another hive, as he  has too many hives for his hobby (he collected some swarms in spring) and he is trying to reduce the his number of hives.

Could I put a new hive in the same place as the old one, YES or will it simply get re-infested? ONLY IF THAT HIVE SWARMS ARE GETS WEAK  If I cleaned out the current hive, should I just cut everything out? YOU COULD CLEAN IT OR FREEZE IT AND a NEW COLONY WILL CLEAN IT UP  Are there bacterial problems associate with the moths? NO

Sorry for all the questions. NO WORRIES!



...JP
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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2009, 11:31:15 AM »

I'm sorry to hear about your hive.

I'm a newbee too but if I had what you have, I think I would do as mentioned by tlynn - pare down the amount of frames to the least damaged and what the hive could work - maybe to a 4 frame nuc? - and I would add - buy a new queen.

I completely get that you are willing to let them go and start over but me, I'm too stubborn (or stupid - or both) not to keep trying to save them. Unless you really only have (as you mentioned in your earlier post) 20 bees, I would refuse to let those wax moths win!!

Good luck - I hope you will let us know what you do and how it works out.

- Jess



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JP
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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2009, 01:26:24 PM »

I'm sorry to hear about your hive.

I'm a newbee too but if I had what you have, I think I would do as mentioned by tlynn - pare down the amount of frames to the least damaged and what the hive could work - maybe to a 4 frame nuc? - and I would add - buy a new queen.

I completely get that you are willing to let them go and start over but me, I'm too stubborn (or stupid - or both) not to keep trying to save them. Unless you really only have (as you mentioned in your earlier post) 20 bees, I would refuse to let those wax moths win!!

Good luck - I hope you will let us know what you do and how it works out.

- Jess





Jess, he mentions there are very few bees so this hive is practically doomed. They are beyond saving at this point. They usually are in fact when wax moths are found in multitudes. Only if the situation is detected early will the bees survive, with help of course.

Waxmoth sign in most cases points to a doomed hive that had problems way before you discovered waxmoths.


...JP
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tlynn
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« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2009, 06:48:04 PM »

Yea, too bad.  Sounds like the hive's dead.  Freeze them quick and at least you'll have some drawn brood frames to get another one going more quickly.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2009, 07:52:35 PM »

Get a hold of one of those beekeepers shipping us thousands of packages and see if they can get you going again.  One for you is one less sent over here. They would be doing you a favor, me a favor..... grin

Ok, not the best advice. Sorry to hear about your loss. Save the comb after freezing. And always try to learn from what you have seen. As JP, stated, the hive was doomed long before the wax moth moved in. Good luck.
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2009, 11:47:52 AM »

I agree that the hive was doomed awhile ago.

http://greygum.net/bees/web/p1240157_1.jpg
This pic looks a lot like there was a drone laying queen or a laying worker that was laying drones in worker comb.  This would cause the hive to dwindle and eventually the secondary pests would move in.

I concur with all the previous advice...freeze the frames to kill the wax moths and get a package, swarm, or split in there as soon as you can.

Rick
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thevoice
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2009, 04:15:03 PM »

Thanks for everyone's advice.  On the public holiday yesterday I got a strong hive from the friend I mentioned in an earlier post, this hive is a single box but is quite established.  This new hive is far more active than the first one ever was, so I suppose I may have had a weak queen orriginally.

The new hive promptly raided the old one before I could get time to get the old one apart and frozen.  In the end I have simply popped the top off the old hive and let the new one have at it.  I'm assuming that a strong hive will keep out the moths, so at this point I'm not worried about them infesting the new hive.

Any problems with what I've done?
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2009, 10:46:40 AM »

No, they should be fine.  If you are just letting them rob the old hive, then the moths won't transfer.

Regardless, it didn't look like you had a really bad infestation of moths, a strong hive should be able to kick that if you had just combined them.

But if you haven't combined them yet, I'd still try to freeze them at first chance (although thats tougher now with all the robbers), and you can probably put the old box on the new hive soon.

Rick
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JP
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« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2009, 11:50:09 AM »

No problem at all with what you did, I bet that's a site you won't soon forget, huh?


...JP
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