I have had a problem with a new hive (3 months old). The hive was strong and growing and the bees were migrating into the super and I started to notice beetles. I did some reading about them and put a table cloth on the bottom screen to catch them which partially worked. I bought beetle traps and put them in the honey super and these also killed many beetles. As the hive was growing I figured they were able to fight the beetles with more luck. We have had alot of rain and I noticed the bee population diminishing. I have been out of town for a couple of weeks and opened the brood house up as there were not many bees around and most of the bees were dead and alot of larva. I believe that this was from the beetles. Any suggestions for control of these beetles as I have friends in this locale and they do not have beetle issues? Is it too late to start again this year?
Welcome to the Flow forum! Sorry you have lost a hive.
Are you sure they were all SHB (small hive beetle) larvae? Hives will often get more over-run with wax moth larvae than SHB. Was the comb slimy and wet looking? If so, that makes SHB more likely, and you won’t be able to reuse the comb. If it is wax moth, I would freeze the frames for 48 hours to kill them off, otherwise they will destroy it pretty quickly.
Like you, I use beetle traps inside the hive - the ones with oil in them. They sit just below the inner cover, as that is where the bees seem to like to trap them most. There are a few other things you can do:
- Always keep the hive as strong as possible. Do not expand the space too quickly or the bees will have a hard time defending it.
- Be very gentle and use slow smooth movements when inspecting. Squashed or trapped bees can be a very good source of food for SHB larvae.
- I water the soil around the hives with a parasitic nematode suspension. These feed on any larvae which are in the soil, and help to keep the numbers down. You can’t use it inside the hive, but you can prevent more adults from emerging from any larvae in your apiary soil. It is a bit expensive, but this is the one I use:
For most parts of the US, the main nectar flow is over for the year, so I would say that it is a bit late to start with a nucleus or package at this point. They would have a hard time to build up the numbers to overwinter successfully, although your winters are probably very mild.
However, your local bee club may know of whole hives for sale. This is the sort of time of year where some people decide that they just can’t cope with beekeeping any more (age, heat, illness etc), so it would definitely be worth asking around.
I hope you do start again. Please ask if you have any more questions, and keep us updated on your beekeeping progress.
There does not appear to be any slime. I figured they were SHB because of the amount of beetles I saw. The larva is down in the bottom screen in what looks like saw dust. I have never seen a moth around. I’ve lost this hive, but wanted to try again next year. The frames were supplied to me with bees already making comb. I spread borax on the ground around the hive but did not think it would be a good idea to put it on the frames although there are lots of larva in them. Thank you for your help.
One other weird thing I noticed while cleaning the flow frames with hot water is that they smell like urine and there are several capped cells with bees in them. I did not think that happened in the flow frame just the brood box.
If there were a lot of larvae, I think you would be seeing slime and wet-looking trails through the comb. Wax moth larvae tend to make silk strands and holes in the wax, but no slime. Even with wax moth larvae, you probably won’t see any adult moths until the infestation gets totally overwhelming.
That sounds like chewed up wax on the bottom of the hive. If you can post any photos, we could confirm that for you. Larvae down there more often than not are wax moth larvae, unless they are very small and skinny looking. SHB larvae like to stay in the brood box, as they can’t really get their nutrition from just wax - they need pollen and bee larvae. When they are ready to pupate, they drop down and try to exit the hive, as they need to pupate in soil. Wax moths are happy to pupate inside the hive.
Yes, definitely don’t put it in the hive or on frames. It will kill bees if any remains on them.
I can’t explain the urine smell. A photo would help to see if the brood looks diseased. Brood in the flow frames usually happens because the queen has been up there. If you used a plastic queen excluder, they can be very unreliable and she can get through them. I would suggest buying a metal one - I prefer the ones that have a wood rim framing the edge.
If it wasn’t a plastic queen excluder, the other possibility is laying workers in the Flow super. That usually only happens if you have a double or triple brood box and is less common than the queen being where she shouldn’t be…
Attached are 2 pictures I took before I cleaned it up. You can see a couple of larva on the comb. I like the idea of the nematodes and I think Ill try that next year along with the traps. Let me know what you think. The pictures aren’t that good but maybe you’ll see something.
second picture attached
Photo 1 is helpful, thank you. I have a few questions and thoughts for you. I am not criticizing you with any of these points, just trying to help you work it out.
- What is the white powder on the ground? Is that borax?
- Is the brood box on the bottom board, because if so, it looks like the white powder is inside the hive. Hopefully not. Chewed up wax is not usually that white. More of a creamy yellowish color.
- The upper frame is barely drawn out. Looks like plastic foundation. I would say that hive was not ready for a super based on that frame.
- The lower frame also looks like black plastic foundation, with a damage pattern absolutely typical of wax moths.
- Neither frame shows any evidence of capped brood. The queen hasn’t been there for quite a while.
The second picture is also very helpful.
- The large dark arc in the Flow frames is typical for a brood area. Because it is a nice arc, I am convinced that your queen was trapped above the queen excluder (QX). Laying workers don’t make such a nice pattern.
- The culprit QX is in the photo - it is made of plastic and queens often get above these. You are not the first to have this problem.
- If the queen was trapped above the QX, she would only have been able to lay drones. Flow frames are too deep for worker brood. That would result in your hive dying out over about 6-9 weeks, if the queen could not get back down to the lower box.
My diagnoses and suggested treatments are as follows :
- The queen got above the QX and could only lay drones.
- The hive population dropped to the level where there weren’t enough bees to fight off SHB and wax moths, as drones don’t gather honey, and they were probably trapped above the QX too.
- You have wax moth damage of the frames, but this can stopped by freezing them for at least 24 hours, then wrapping in box covered with burlap to stop more moths from attacking them.
- I agree, no evidence of SHB slime out on the frames you show.
- You are going to need to clean up the Flow frames. The cocoons from brood can interfere with subsequent harvests. That either means several hours with a fine pair of tweezers, or dismantle and wash the frames, then reassemble as shown in Cedar’s video on the Flow web site.
Thank you for posting the photos. My comments are probably not much comfort, but I don’t think SHB killed your hive, I think the plastic QX is top of the list.
Thanks for your help. The white powder is the borax. I was trying to kill the beetles and larva after I realized the Hive was gone. I have since washed everything with water thoroughly. I washed the flow frames with hot water and it appears that I got everything out although they still have a stained color. Do you think I still need to take them apart to clean? I don’t understand why they would sell the flow hive with a QX that is problematic but if you have a suggestion on what I should be looking at I would appreciate it. I was curious if the queen comes out of the bottom while I have the roof off the top could she had gotten stuck in the top that way? Will the nematodes you suggested do anything for wax moths or is there something else I should be using to protect against them. Thanks again for your help. All is good information.
I would thoroughly wash that out of the soil before applying nematodes - they probably won’t like it much either as it is abrasive to anything crawling through it. Perhaps don’t get the nematodes until after you have a new hive. If that is next Spring, so much the better.
If they still have a stained color, you still have cocoons in there. The bees secrete shellac which is dark brown and stains the cocoons. If you use some fine forceps or tweezers, you should be able to pull out a silky thin “sock” which lines each cell. Personally, I would rather take the whole frame apart than do that for hundreds of cells, but others feel differently. The choice is yours.
I used to buy them from Brushy Mountain, but they went bankrupt unfortunately. Assuming that you have an 8-frame hive, Kelley has a decent one, but shipping is pricy:
It isn’t for everyone, but we have been bugging Flow via @Freebee2 to consider changing the QX to metal. Of course it adds cost (materials) and weight (shipping expense), so that is probably why they went for plastic.
Almost anything is possible in beekeeping, but usually it is just that the plastic QX is slightly warped or broken on one little bar, and she can push through. If it then makes a sort of “one way valve”, she can’t get back down again.
No, because wax moths pupate inside the hive, and nematodes only act on larvae which pupate in soil. The best way to control wax moths is to keep the hive strong, and never give the bees too much space. If they haven’t drawn out all of the comb, they are not ready for a super or another box.
Glad you are trying to learn. Please keep us updated.
Thanks for your help. We have been getting so much rain here I’m sure it will be washed away by next Spring. I’ll let you know how we do.
I have been following the flow of information between you and @Dawn_SD and from the pics she has nailed it and given good advice.
As for the crap plastic QX supplied by Flow I wonder why they have them in the kits, as long term bee keepers I bet Stuart and Cedar don’t use them on their own hives, so I can only guess it is a cost saving issue for more profit. I wonder why they don’t offer a metal QX as an upgrade at a slight cost increase. Any beekeeper with a few years experience wouldn’t use a plastic QX…
Thanks Peter. I have one more question. Probably a stupid one, but I have been reading a lot about the QX and many people cut holes in the super so the bees don’t have to go thru the brood box and QX. What stops the queen from traveling out and moving to the honey super?
Doug, no question is stupid if you don’t already know the answer. Some might make me smile but all are treated as seriously seeking information ok.
Some folks use top entrances into the super as an option to returning bees going thru the brood box, but I don’t, and that choice is just the way I do things. As with a lot of bee keeping there is more than one way which works.
Ok, to your question, the queen hates being in sunlight, the darker it is the happier she is. So it is unlikely that she would want to go outside to crawl exposed to a top entrance that she doesn’t know exists anyhow. The queens sole function is to lay eggs and that is all. It isn’t in her DNA to be an explorer.
Good information. Thank you.
Re: The great plastic vs metal queen excluder debate.
We do use plastic queen excluders in our hives here. Much as I don’t like plastic, in our testing we just found the plastic ones were much gentler on the bees. The metal ones we found to be too sharp and unforgiving.
There are certainly pros and cons to both (and the cost difference is actually fairly marginal at wholesale level) - but the bees come first, so until we find a really decent gentle alternative, I’m afraid we’re stuck with plastic.
An interesting reply to the thread but as all of the metal QX’s are made with round wire I wonder where you have found anything sharp about them. You feel the metal QX is ‘unforgiving’, but in what way?
True they (the metal QX) don’t sag over time in the hive, don’t distort when being removed for a brood inspection and they don’t become brittle and break when being taken off the hive so then defeating their purpose. I have never needed to replace a metal QX because it has failed one way or another.
As for price difference being marginal there is a big difference in the manufacturing cost that is passed on, regardless of how many are ordered. My nearest bee keeping supplier retails the metal units at nearly 4 times the price of the plastic ones he sells. I only buy from him in desperate need of something as he can’t stop bad mouthing Flow Hives, a subject he knows very little about.
I still say that it is a shame the that Flow Hive don’t even list a metal QX as an optional extra as a more bee gentle alternative.
I have no problem with plastic QX’s, I was given six along with other gear by a chap who decided bee keeping wasn’t for him, and I had no problem in tossing them in my recycle bin, even thou they had never been used. Each to their own, I’m not stuck with plastic, nor should anyone else be denied a better product. But that is just my opinion and experience over the years.
Thanks for the response.
Currently we are not able to make metal queen excluders available as an upgrade or spare because we have not had any manufactured, since based on our research, we formed the view that the plastic was gentler.
We are not trying to cut corners here - even in our Flow Hive 2, which is our most premium hive and has brass knobs and so on, we still use plastic excluders. However, it’s possible the ones you use are different to the ones we considered - and we are always keen to listen to customer feedback and preferences and take that into account when we tweak our hive designs.
I will certainly pass your comments on to Cedar for consideration. Do you have a photo of your preferred style that I could show him? He is away at the moment but I’d be happy to show him when he returns.
In the meantime, since we use standard Langstroth sizing, customers who prefer the metal excluders should at least be able to source one readily.
I agree that the Flow kit is a premium kit with a premium price and as such should come with the best QE possible considering how essential it is to the system.
Well put Rob, all the hives I sell come with a metal QX fitted, I only sell 8 frame hives complete with a super and even a mouse guard (or a cane toad guard as they are a bigger issue up here). I sell what I would be happy to buy and won’t skimp on a plastic QX. I’ve been bee keeping long enough to know the pit falls and hassles of a plastic QX.