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Complete overhaul of Flowhive - Prepping for new hive - Anything else I should do?

We lost our hive last year after two years of success. We assume they swarmed. The last two weekends we took apart the hive and did the following.

removed all the wax
used a steam cleaner for all the cracks and joints to get the at the larva
burned all the frames to be safe
Soaked everything for 20 minutes in hot water and bleach
Let them dry for a week
Sanded them
put one coat of tung oil
wiped and waited a week
Sanded and put on another coat of tung
wiped and waited a week
have the the plastic flow hives in the freezer in plastic bags (will wait 3 days)

Cosmetic Results below

BUT i was stunned that even after all that the darn moth larva was hatching (although only a few)from the wooden boxes.
So went back to each joist crack and ran a dental tool into the cracks.

Any additional suggestions before I start a new hive?


PS Sorry I didn’t take photos of the the cleaning beforehand. It was a crazy production but super type A (I am married to a German)




That was a lot of wasted effort if the colony had only swarmed. But I think the colony had ‘absconded’ where all the bees leave the hive. When the colony swarms about half the bees remain and make a new queen for the bees to continue in the hive.
You haven’t said what you had seen in the hive straight afterwards and that might have been a big help in figuring out the reason the bees left.
Wax moth is is hard to eradicate once it gets strong, what I do in that case is to scorch all the wood ware and use new foundation, burning the frames isn’t needed. Wax moth will invade a hive with no bees in it.

I’d suggest at least 3 coats of Tung Oil. Also, if your freezer has space and the wax moth is still bothersome, disassemble it and put it in a freezer for a couple of days.

Can you give a link back to your post where you talk about the troubles you ran into and any discussion you had? If your hive swarmed, and didn’t abscond, did you try collapsing back to just your brood box and letting the colony rebuild? Reducing to only your brood box reduces the amount of effort they need to exert to maintain temperature across all that empty space and helps them defend things better (i.e. smaller space gives a smaller number of bees the best chance of defending against wax moth etc).

happy to offer my thoughts if you can explain a little more about the colony you lost- and what happened. Concerning wax moth: they are everywhere. Even if you managed to sterilise the hive- within weeks of having bees back in there there is bound to be some wax moth moseying along. They can’t really be avoided. However: if a hive is strong- they are generally no problem at all. They just eek out a horrid existence at the peripheries of the hive. The bees keep them in control. They only really become a big mess when a hive is weak or has died. They are more of an issue when storing wax and frames- which they will ruin if they can.

You didn’t need to burn those frames- you could have dipped them in boiling water- or frozen them- or cooked them in a solar wax melter. Burning equipment is probably only necessary for diseases like AFB.

having said all that- what you did certainly won’t hurt- and your hive looks lovely now with fresh oil. Ready to go!

Thanks for the queries and feedback. Actually I don’t know why the hive left. It seemed pretty healthy but very full, they never moved up to the flow part of the frames. I had wondered if I had too many boxes but all of them were so full and filled with lots of happy bees. I did have a few moths and beetles that I thought I had it contained. I was never confident we didn’t have other things in the box because we are new to bees. When the bees left I didn’t know enough to just close up the hive. Then we had raiders for several weeks while I was traveling on business. When I came back it was clear the bees going in and out were not there to stay. I closed up the entrance and walked away sad but vowing to do better next time with more photos and checking when we opened up the hive for inspection. During the fall winter the bottom was open and it turned into a total mess with the moths and other things. I had forgotten about the back bottom entrance. Hence my “over” prepping. Better safe than sorry was my thinking. Roger on cleaning and then freezing the frames in the future. My Dad who died year ago, was a cabinetmaker so although a-lot of work, I was continually thinking about how pleased he would be with the beehives and the sanding and staining work :wink:

PS by the way my lack of confidence when looking in the hive included not being able to find/ID the queen. So I am really a newbie.

PSS When they left there were very few bees still in the hive. I didn’t think to reduce the number of boxes. They seemed to be around for about 6 weeks before the robbers showed up.

Hi @Danicaremy - may I suggest you put your location or general area in your profile, it will help us when giving advice and may help you find more experienced beekeepers near you :wink:

I am guessing this was a new colony since you said you’re new to beekeeping. When you say “full of happy bees”, I’m wondering how full is full, and more importantly, how built up the frames were with combs that should have been filled with brood and food before adding the next box?

About spotting your queen, don’t get too sucked into the hype - your eye will become more discerning over time and experience, and oftentimes it’s far easier to confirm the queen’s presence by finding recently-laid eggs in cells.

Sounds to me like you need a do-over, with a bit more support from someone near you or at least more frequent questions posted here - you’ll be sure to get excellent guidance from this forum so don’t be shy :blush:

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Thanks @Eva for the profile suggestion. I am in Mill Valley, California USA. My husband got me 5 frames of bees from an established bee keeper in San Rafael near me for my birthday in March of 2017. So we started with a full house kind of, then as they grew into the box I added another under the flow box.

We had lots of eggs so I was sure we had a queen, I was able to figure out how to see those :wink:

I hope to have more support from a local beekeeper which I have reached out to. But my big lesson is taking pictures every-time I inspect the box so I can share them with all you folks!


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Hi Danica, I would have suggested paramoth if you weren’t in California… However, the state will not allow us to use it or bring it into the state. :disappointed_relieved:

I wouldn’t worry any further. It looks like you have done a beautiful job. When the bees get in there, they will control any further moths for you.


Too bad about losing the bees: What were the Varroa mite counts and what did you do to eliminate them?


When i broke down my founding bottom board I found moth larvae had burrowed beneath the screen and wooden risers. No way for bees to combat this. They were feeding on the debris trapped at the edges. Having replaced the hive with a solid bb and leaving the Flow bb in the shed there were still grubs living there many months later. I am currently in the process of removing the step at the screen and fitting a solid board flush with the entrance.
Having said this, as others have said a strong colony should keep them out above the screen.
+1 for varroa. Interesting how the mite situation is tip toed around. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


What do I need to do with respect to cleaning my hive before putting in a new nuc, post varroa wipeout?

If you are absolutely sure it was varroa, and no other infestation/infection, you don’t need to do anything. Just be sure first… :wink:

Yes, positive it was varroa. I took the hive brood boxes and bottom board to our local bee supply company. He inspected everything and pointed out the black pepper like dead mites on the corflute bottom board.