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Dead Hive Clean Up

Hello Folks - I just opened a dead hive from last winter that I stored in a sealed container in my barn. I set the frames out in the sun for the bees to remove any honey left behind and they seem to be going at it pretty well. Hopefully I’ll be able to thoroughly clean it afterwards for reuse.

I’m posting a few pictures for folks to comment if they see anything of concern. I did see one lone beetle (at least I think it’s a beetle), no additional beetles were found. I noticed two cells had tiny larva that crawled out. I attached a bunch a pictures. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

The honey looks like it has been partially slimed by SHB so bees won’t clean it up.

Any beetle larvae that escape into the soil will return as adult beetles after pupating.

And if your hive perished due to a disease or infection, you have likely passed that on to any neighbouring hives by leaving all your gear out in the open which is illegal in Australia for good reason.


Hi Becky, I agree with what Stevo has seen and with his advice. Before storing anything in bee keeping over Winter it should be placed in a deep freezer for 48 hours to kill any eggs, larvae or grubs of anything that you don’t want in a bee hive. Then put the gear in a seal-able container.
You haven’t said why the hive died last Winter.

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Are you sure its SHB? Can you help me understand ‘slimed by SHB’? There was only one tiny black bug and I’m not sure it was a beetle and only two larvae. I just put it out late yesterday and put everything back in the container an hour ago just in case you’re right.

Ah, didn’t know that…I better go out and get a small freezer for the future. So you think its SHB too? In that case, is putting everything in the freezer the next move?

Oh gag, I just looked it up. My frames don’t look nearly as bad as what I just saw online, but the larvae looked the same…sigh.

I am utterly heartbroken…:disappointed:

The beetles have probably just turned up after the hive died out to take what they could.

Just clean everything up as best you can, learn from what has happened and get ready for next season.

Don’t be too hard on yourself.

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Yes, it is SHB and any frame should be frozen as a precaution of any eggs of wax moth or SHB, you certainly don’t want either in your hive. After freezing the frames for 48 hours any eggs will be dead so then you can store the frames in an insect proof container.
Chin up Becky, it isn’t the end of the world and you will learn from mistakes faster than from achievements.

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Thanks Stevo and Peter48…I appreciate the nice words.

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I just brought home a compact freezer from Home Depot to put my frames today (passed on using my regular freezer for this). After the 48 hours in the freezer, what is the best method to clean them and bring them back to a usable state?
As a thanks for you help, I found this research paper about SHB in African colonies you may be interested in.


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Thanks for posting that info Becky, I have some reading to do tonight.
My thoughts is that you could put the frames back on the hive with that box above another box with empty frames and the bees might clean up the contaminated frames if they are not heavily infested, but the bees might totally ignore them.
A better option, but time consuming would be to dismantle the frames and wash with water with disinfectant and dish washing liquid using a finger nail brush and a final water rinse before reassembling.
When I have traditional frames that have a SHB slime out I burn the frames, might be a bit radical as some say they cut out the comb and scorch the frame with a propane gas torch.
It will be interesting to read others thoughts.

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So sorry your colony died, and now you have a yucky mess, Becky! I think draining the Flow frames into a bucket and discarding the contaminated honey would be easier than dismantling them. After they’re drained you can dunk them into a large tub of warm soapy water and swish around, and rinse well. Once they’ve dried, they should be safe to store.

I just put mine away today in the shed. My storage trick is to freeze frames with comb or wax residue first, then replace into boxes. Then I stack the boxes with a sheet of parchment paper between each one, and a cover on top. A big piece of burlap goes over the stack. Keeps pests out.

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Do you get mould or mildew? Couple of years ago I did similar and got heaps of mould which was a pain to get rid of.

Not so far, maybe my winters are drier and colder?

Well, I’m appointing you the new SHB guru (not sure if that’s a title anyone wants or not!). Fall is here in upstate NY with winter close behind, so I’ll take the long route and clean the frames with a small brush…that’ll give me a nice project over the cold months. Clearly, I’m a novice in this subject, but the frames didn’t seem too terribly bad, so fingers crossed I’ll be able to do a halfway decent job getting them clean. Thanks for the great suggestions!

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Hi Eva…a yucky mess indeed! When I unpacked them from the storage box, I saw that only two of the frames were packed full of honey. I’ll uncap those guys and try to get out as much as I can first, then dunk them as you suggest, but they do a brush taken to them. We shall see how all this goes…:slight_smile:

Winter coming is your friend with SHB as number will drop. I’m very active in fighting SHB in my apiary and they love the warm and humid climate here they’re certainly my biggest problem. I fit the ‘beetle buster’ traps as a matter of course to my splits. In my mentoring I come across a lot of hives of varying degrees of being infested.
When you tackle the frames take your time, use plenty of hot soapy water and a finger nail brush, put some music on you like to listen to. Rinse well and air dry the frames. The smell can be really stomach churning,
Cheers Becky

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The beetle slime can also be dangerous to people with weak or compromised immune systems, and probably isn’t good for anyone to be honest, so always avoid breathing it or getting it in open cuts etc.

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I haven’t seen anything in research about beetle slime but I suspect it is full on bacteria and even a scratch could get infected easily. Something that is that bad a smell has to be bad, real bad…

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