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Author Topic: SHB, maggots, dead bees with only skins remaining  (Read 2240 times)
davmal
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« on: August 02, 2012, 06:01:39 PM »

7 days ago I attempted to combine two deeps using a double screen board. The bottom deep had a good queen-right colony. The top was my queen killer <g> hive #1 in which I had laying workers and which I had tried re-queening on a couple occasions this past summer. All attempts failed. It was now full of bullets and multi-egg cells. No queen. No new brood. No honey. Some pollen. A disaster. Plenty of bees. I had intended on removing the DSB in two weeks and let the two deeps combine. I placed the combine only 20 feet away from the original location of the queen killer colony. Initially, there was a lot of activity coming and going in the top (queen killer) deep. Then three days ago activity in that top deep stopped. Today I checked the top queen killer deep and it was almost empty of bees. Also, the dividing screen was covered with hundreds of dead bees - mostly skins only. Like the skins left behind by cicadas when they molt. Some carcasses also had a white appearance. Many brood were dead in their cells - dying while trying to exit. But also, there were SHB everywhere. Lots of maggots scurrying all over the place. A mildly bad odor, too.

I think that many of the bees flew back to the original location where I now have a queenless nuc made from a split from a strong hive #2. That nuc is pretty packed with bees. I intend on letting this nuc make its own queen.

Questions:

1. I put all frames from the queen killer deep in the freezer for 48 hours. I have been told to then wash the comb with a mild solution of Dawn while the comb is still thawing out and, thus, still firm. Then to rinse and let air dry before returning to a deep and putting that deep back on top of the queen-right deep. I was told that bees will not go up and clean out the frames that have the smell of so many SHB and their slime and that the Dawn will help in that regard. Have you ever cleaned comb with Dawn? Any tips on how to do so?

2. The carcasses of the dead bees were mostly hallow - like the skins left behind by molding cicadas. Do you know why there were skins only and not the complete bee? Do SHB or their larvae eat the soft tissue of dead bees?

3. Any tips for this new bee keeper to avoid such a disaster in the future?

Thanks for your help! - Dave
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Diogenes
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2012, 09:13:28 PM »

Well, for item 1, I wouldn't use any detergent. A water rinse wouldn't hurt. I don't know how the bees would react to the perfumes in dish soap. (just my uninformed opinion)

2.... That is a mystery to me.

and 3.... Fortunately I haven't had the "pleasure" of dealing with a laying worker hive. When I've discovered queenless hives, I steal a frame of fresh eggs and open brood (making sure I don't accidentally steal the queen with it) and transplant that (with nurse bees) into the queenless hive. They will either raise a queen or dwindle away. So far, that's all I've had to do.\

Your mileage will vary.

 cool
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"Inflation is the one form of taxation that can be imposed without legislation." - Milton Friedman
davmal
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2012, 09:22:37 AM »

Diogenes, Thanks for the advice! Epilogue: I froze the infested frames. Two days later, I removed them from the freezer, half-filled a cooler with cold water and added three pumps of Dawn hand soap. This made a light solution - not sudsy at all. After gently tapping the frame on the ground to dislodge maggots and SHB, I hosed down the frozen comb and lots of maggots were flushed out.

I then used a firm bristle brush dipped in the solution to scrub the wooded parts of the frame. I then used a foxtail brush (the kind used in a wood shop - has soft bristles) dipped in the solution to lightly wash the comb in all directions. I then rinsed. To remove water I did not merely shake the comb up and down - doing so removed only minimal water. Instead, I held the frame in both hands and swung it down between my legs. Tons of water came out. Guess the angle of the cells has something to do with that.

After a couple hours, the frames were pretty dry. I spritzed them with sugar water on both sides, replaced them in their deep and placed the deep on top of a queen-right deep. Within an hour or two the bees were all over those frames cleaning them out. Within a week the queen was up there laying all over the place.

Takeaway: carefully washing frozen comb infested with SHB with a light solution of Dawn works.

I did as you suggested - made a split from a good hive. Within a week I had queen cells. That was a week ago. In a week from now I will check for eggs.
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Diogenes
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« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2012, 08:50:31 PM »

You might actually be 2 weeks or so from eggs. The newly hatched queen will roam the hive killing her rivals (other queen cells) and maturing a bit. Then she decides it's time to be a sultry temptress to a dozen or so drones. Then after a break from all that mid-air acrobatics, she'll start laying.

So, 2-3 weeks from now.

I'm really glad the SHB don't seem to like snow. Almost makes it bearable. Almost.

 cool
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"Inflation is the one form of taxation that can be imposed without legislation." - Milton Friedman
buzzbee
Ken
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« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2012, 10:42:17 PM »

I would stay away from detergent too. I don't know if the residual in the wax could harm brood or not. Soapy water is an effective bee killer.
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