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Absconded Hive - What's next?

Hello folks, first year beekeeper here in South Western Ohio. I went to check on my hives today and one of the four is completely empty save for 50 bees or so and some hive beetles (what was my strongest one as of two weeks ago). Two questions, 1. My other three hives still have some frames that aren’t built out, can I move some of the built out frames over to the other hives to give them more storage space going into winter, 2. How should I store the empty hives so I can use them come spring for a new nuc or package? Should I place them on top of some of the other hives to make sure they are cleaned out, and then wrap them in plastic with moth balls? Should I treat with Apiguard before that? (Was going to do all the hives in mid-october (treated them once in mid july with no issues). Any help would be appreciated.

I wouldn’t give them empty space at this time of year. I would freeze the frames for 48 hours to kill off larvae from wax moths or SHB, then store in the boxes in a cool, dry place until next spring. If you put some burlap or canvas over the bottom and tops of the boxes, they should stay free of infestation until spring.

Apiguard is not really needed for empty hives. Varroa won’t live longer than a few weeks with no bees to feed on. I also don’t like Apiguard at this time of year. It isn’t really warm enough and the bees tend to propolise the container, so the thymol cannot work effectively. I would either use Apivar strips or Oxalic Acid vaporization for treating the populated hives for varroa.

I think you should investigate the cause of the bees absconding. You should have the leftover brood checked for signs of disease. Another separate issue is if the frames have SHB slyme on them. That will need to be cleaned off before introducing them to another colony. SHB slyme is a bee repellent. That can also be a factor in the bees absconding.


Found these guys in one of the brood boxes. Assuming they are small hive beetle larva?

Yes, for sure, that IS SHB larvae. Is that in the combs after the colony absconded? What I do is cut all of that out & boil it in water to retrieve the wax. Clean up the frames to get ready to start again.

It’s a good tip to not leave anything laying around for the SHB to breed up in. Gather up all of the larvae & put them in the freezer.

Yeah that was the hive. I put all the frames that had them in the freezer. I’ll cut those parts out once they thaw. Thanks for the tip. Do you cut out just around where they were or trash the entire wax in the frame?

This was in the bottom brood box, also found a large wolf spider in there when I opened it. The top was real active when I checked it a couple weeks before the disappeared. Lesson learned on checking the bottom as well and not taking for granted it’s fine if the top box is fine.

Yes for sure Larry, lesson well learned. I would be inclined to cut the whole lot out. Then wire them & fit some wax foundation prior to your next lot of bees.