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Help with small hive beetle (SHB) infestation

Very new to bee keeping , we have had our hive for over a year with no problems and plenty of honey. But today we found the wax moth has infuriated the brood box, we feel it is devastated and unsure what to do with or how to move the bees so we can clean it out.

I realise this is probably a very obvious question to all of you but we tend to overthink and would love a step by step process if anyone knows one.

Thank you kindly

Step 1. Prepare some room in your freezer…

Are you able to give any more info on the level of infestation? Ie are all frames infested? Super?

Have you got extra hive-ware?

Are you sure it is infested with wax moth? Some close-up photos would be real handy. Wax moth don’t normally devastate an active hive. Hive beetles will devastate an active hive if given the opportunity.

If it is hive beetle, you’ll need to act quickly, otherwise the colony will abscond.

Wax moth normally “infuriate” a hive after the colony has died out.

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Hi Sarah, I’m so sorry to hear about your colony - it’s an ugly sight when wax moths take over! Jeff makes a good point, although I’ve experienced something like what I think you’re describing - please do post pics if you can…anyway, during an end of season inspection I discovered that one of my large & previously strong colonies consisted only of about a hundred workers, desperately trying to remove webs and chase adult wax moths and larvae away, with almost no stores left. It was an awful sight.

My solution was to take the hive away a few feet and put a dish of honey in its place. I gently shook, disentangled and guided all the bees I could over the dish, and they all fell on it eagerly because they were nearly starved. I moved the honey dish right next to the other hive that was on the stand with the infested one, so the now well-fed workers might have a chance to beg their way into it. Thanks to @Dee for that tip :kissing_heart:

I killed all the moths I could and put the frames into a big bucket of bleach solution to kill the larvae. After that they went into the freezer overnight for good measure, and whatever was less than 50% webbed I cut out and rendered.

The next day, the honey was gone, and so were the bees - I assume that any bees with enough lifespan left in them managed to integrate with the neighboring colony.

Since neither their queen nor any newer brood or eggs were to be found, I figure she must have kicked off in the two and a half weeks or so since my last inspection. That gave the moths the upper hand even though there were still good numbers and activity to my casual eye. The only way I might have had a clue and possibly been able to intervene sooner would have been to heft the hive and realize the weight was dropping. I could have then cleaned up & merged more bees, or bought a mated queen to put with what would’ve been a decent nuc-sized colony or maybe single brood box-worth. It was pretty late in the season, so letting them make a new queen with a frame from another hive would’ve been risky for them and for the other hive.

So, if you have a decent number of bees left WITH a queen, you could clean up and condense the hive. I don’t know where in the world Towradgi is, so I can’t say if you’re at a good point in your season for a population rebound? Or requeening?

Anyway, please let us know more & if you have more questions…

Hi Jeff

Here is a closed up, and thank you so much for looking at this, I my email was short and unclear yesterday as ai as in a panic, I really do appreciate your help.

Thank you


Hello Eva

Thank you for your email, all information helps me, I looked today and the Bees ate still there, I am unsure what I am dealing with.

Or how to help them

Thank you

Some of the bees are gathering in 2 spots outside of the hive?

It’s definitely not wax moth. It looks like the early stages of a hive beetle slime-out.

You would need to acquire a frame of fresh brood. One that also has a honey arc. Place that in a clean brood box as well as some fresh foundation after luring the queen & a lot of the workers onto that brood frame. Remove the infested hive before replacing it with the new brood box.

Avoid as many beetle larvae making it to ground as possible. That’s where they complete their life cycle. I would clean the frames into a bucket before sealing the lid before placing it in the sun on a hot day. That will kill the larvae etc. Alternatively freeze it.

Welcome to my world :slight_smile:

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Is that why those cells seem extra shiny, Jeff? We have SHB here but perhaps not as virulent with cold winters & I’ve never seen a slime-out, thank god…

Hi Eva, yes it is. It seems that while beetles are mating & laying eggs, they are also walking in honey before spreading it everywhere which gives the affected area that wet look. The little bit of the frame showing on the top right corner looks to me to be wetter than the front one. Then there is the dead bees with the pupae lying in honey doesn’t look good.

Yep, I agree with Jeff… give it another day or two and the hive will be filled with beetle larva. Don’t take any of those frames to the new box when you move your bees. My advice is to make sure you place as many beetle traps into the new hive as possible, preferably a Nuc box. I recently had this issue and managed to save the bees much in the manner Jeff is describing, you are treating the bees like a new swarm. In my Nuc box I placed 5 frames of foundation and shook the bees in, by placing a folded chux on the top and bottom of your brood box will catch the beetles but be prepared to replace this every few days to keep their numbers down. The cleanup is the worst part.

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Thank you everyone, we will get started and let you know how it goes,
Thank you for all your time


Interesting story, I am using a hive beetle cassette trap. After the rain here in SEQld, the beetle numbers have increased. It works well.

I had an idea that if the brood box frames were made out of the same material as the flow frames in the honey box, (but not able to be split to release honey obviously) would that stop / hinder the advance of the hive beetle grub and the wax moth grub? They can’t chew thru plastic!

Hi Greg, hive beetles still get active in flow frames when given a chance.

The trick is to make sure that beetles don’t get a chance to lay eggs in anything unguarded, such as dead/dying bees, brood or pollen.

I’m also in S.E. Qld. The hot humid weather we’ve been experiencing in recent months is ideal breeding conditions for beetles. Obviously hives near you have succumb to hive beetles. Hence the increase in numbers you’re experiencing.

It’s funny for me, one of my hives that would have contained hundreds of beetles in the past has suddenly enjoyed a dramatic drop in beetle numbers, which was pleasing to find at the last inspection.

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Wow, that picture says everything! Look at those little beetle grubs.

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Hi Jeff,

I did some inspections today and came across the very start of a slime out. my first one. it was one of my weaker hives with not much going on in the super but i really wanted to check the brood today. brood was strong and packes with bees but im guessing the last couple weeks made the bees retreat a bit from the super (gold coast) so i found 2 frames which have started to be slimed. this is my only hive i forgot to put a trap in the super also

i took the whole super off this hive for the meantime. the 4 frames of half capped honey i wrapped up and put them straight in the freezer. the other frames we stickies so no issues with those frames.

Would it still be ok to feed these back to the hive this coming spring? they would clean it all up. it hasnt started to smell yet either.

Wrap and freeze everything you took off the hive, leave it in there until you use it again if you can, otherwise make sure the wax moth cant get in while they’re stored.

The bees will clean it up and reuse it unless alot of the honey begins to ferment and rupture the cells from the SHB yeast but I’d say that’s unlikely as the damage is so minor.

Did you check the brood box because the beetles much prefer that as a main course.

They will be kept in the freezer until i need them :slight_smile: . brood was perfect and packed with bees. i think thats half the reason they got the super. with the way i set up the mats to keep them warm its not set up to keep the honey warm. but then that also left it a bit defenseless with the hive numbers not really being enough to keep the super on.

Well I’ve never put mats between boxes, and rather that retain heat I think mats are there to stop condensation from Migratory tops dripping onto the brood cluster but by the looks of it they aren’t even clustering or reducing brood where you are.

Besides when the bees are cold they move up in the hive in which case the mat will do nothing if it’s covering the bottom box.

The mats cover most the brood with a about 5cm x 20cm rectangle cut out on 1 end. for super access. purely to keep them in a cluster in the brood so they dont eat as much stores during the winter. as the do slow down laying the numbers will decrease and leave a bit of room in the super. I did this to stop them eating the stores as they went from 3/4 capped frames to 1/4. since i did it they had increased honey in the super. was just advice from my local club. so far I’m liking the results except for the SHB slime out i got.