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SHB Larvae infestation!...Now What?


I spilt my bees this year and had to re-queen the split about a month ago because the queen was gone and there was no brood or eggs; just boards mostly full of honey and very little room for new eggs. So I re-queened. I was told to leave the box alone for several weeks. I just went in to find most every frame and all over the box covered in crawling larvae! Gross. I assume this is SHB larvae.
Being a new bee keeper I do not know what to immediately do. I have been searching the forum and googling and see answers like add clean boards and brood from another box…I don’t have any to spare from my other hive either since I’m new to this as of last year. Also reading to wrap the infested frames in plastic and freeze them…well I have no room in my little freezer to do that with 1 frame much less 20 from the double brood boxes.
I can’t just leave it sit as it is right next to my other box, (the Flow frame box and super) and I imagine they will infest that one soon if not already even though it is stronger.

So what do I do? How do I clean up or otherwise clean up all the frames full of wriggling larvae?

See a few pics attached.


Also my other hive, the FlowHive, the supers have several boards that are not full but capped and look really clean and normal. Can I safely harvest them or could they have SHB larvae in them that cannot be seen? I’d like to get that honey extracted before it could possibly get ruined. I’m not sure the consequences of harvesting infested honey.


Freeze those frames for several days and re-use. They don’t look that bad. Unless you have chickens, they love to feast on those worms :slight_smile:


Hi Nick, it’s not as easy as putting the frames in the freezer for a few days. The bees don’t like working on comb after SHB contamination.

#1. Urgently avoid as many larvae reaching the ground as possible. That’s where they will complete their life cycle & turn into more beetles.

#2 scrape everything into a bucket or bin before freezing it or placing a lid on & putting into the sun to cook/kill.

#3 scrape clean the frames, box & bottom board before thoroughly cleaning to remove SHB slime residue.

#4, I use the honey in comb that hasn’t been slimed on.

Physically check your other hive before harvesting the honey. It will most likely not be infested with larvae. It doesn’t work like that. It just depends on whether the other colony is able to stop the beetles from laying eggs.


Must have different kind of hive beetles overseas? I just froze them and reused without issue:

I had harvested a bunch of supers but left them sitting on the kitchen floor for a few weeks: When I got the time to extract them, hive beetles had slimed them. I froze them and then used them to make a bunch of successful splits and the bees cleaned them up. I did tap the frames to shake out as many worms first: The chickens enjoyed them.


Don’t look that bad? I’ve not seen this before of course, but I have virtually no bees in this box and a lot of honey which apoe as rs all of it covered with the larvae and globs of them crawling in every corner. So sounds pretty much of a mess to me.
I do not have a way to freeze these anyway. Best I can do is spend tomorrow evening picking them all by hand…hundreds of them.
How kdo I "wash the boards without destroying the comb so Mayne I can at least reuse the built boards with a new package or something?
That’s my only thought but I do nm ot know how get rid of them so they don’t spread. How are they in water? I am right next to a lake…would submerging the infested boards in the lake for a period of time kill them all and /or minnows eat them? Would this also rinse out the bad honey? I am just throwing out ideas and grasping at straws for solutions.


#1 I have to assume as t this point many of them are in or on lthe ground. I just did a Tatar insecticide pour all around and under the base of both boxes as a feal attempt to control what I cannot see.
#2&3 sound slide a plan to destroy everything with the assumption of a total loss of the hive. Yes? Scrape all into a bucket and scrape free the frames …so destroying all the comb on all the frames with any larvae.
#4 all the comb looks dark and shiny and most is not capped…but still looks like honey…with evev a few larvae on these boards, wouldnt they all be considered totally contamzinated? I have not done a search for the new queen added a few weeks ago but may assumption she is gone given how few bees are left.

How do I kill on site; all the ones crawling around the frames and on the walls of the box?



Hi Ed, I’d say they’re the same species. The bees will clean them up but are reluctant to work on the affected area for a while. That’s what I found.

I’m happy to just cut the comb out, retrieve the wax & use the rest as fertilizer in a roundabout way. Then give the bees fresh foundation. I salvage the honey out of the comb that hasn’t been slimed on. The rest gets melted down with the wax.

Hi @nbstl68 Nick. Sounds like you’ve catered for #1.

#2 is basically scraping everything into a bucket/bin with a 2" broad knife for example. I transfer everything into my wax melting bin with about 4 liters of water then bring it to a boil. Because I use wood frames, wax foundation, all I have left is the empty frames which I scorch before fitting fresh foundation. That’s also #3.

Your bees may have absconded, taking the queen with them. That’s usually what happens with a full-on slime-out because SHB slime is a bee repellent.

I recently discovered that nothing in nature seems to want to eat the fermented honey after a slime-out. Cockroaches or ants wont touch it. Some fermented honey sat in a bloke’s hive for 12 months, in the comb, after a slime-out. The wax moth & beetles did their job in the brood box, but nothing was interested in the honey. I was given the hive by a bloke who bought bees from me a couple of years earlier.


My boards are a mix of wood with wax foundation and plastic boards, mostly the plastic.

How can I tell if any of the honey on any of the boards is salvageable? If there are even a few worms on a board shouldn’t I assume they may have ruined any of the honey on the frame?

I have no equipment for melting or saving any of the wax foundation. If I scrape it off the boards into a bucket for disposal along with all the larvae and ruined honey I don’t think I’d want to do anything with that anyway.
How can I ensure all the scraped off mess, all the larvae eggs and such are killed? Should I scrape it all into some big bucket of bleach water or insecticide or something? I do not want to just dump it in the trash or the woods and have them grow into beetles and fine their way back to my other hive.

Is there any way to clean and remove the infestation and bad honey and save the foundation on these boards to re-use so I don’t have to completely start over with blank foundation? You mentioned nothing will eat \ clean up the spoiled honey already in there and I don’t know how I could get it out and clean the comb for re-use. Is that even possible?


Yes I noticed that you have plastic frames/foundation.

The honey that I salvage is the honey under the cappings that are still dry. I destroy anything with that wet appearance.

I have an old aluminium bread bin my parents used to use when I was a kid to melt the wax in. It holds 13 liters. Boiling everything in that kills everything. Then I strain it all. The wax & water/honey goes into a wax mold the rest sits in the strainer. That stuff can get buried, however I put it into my black soldier fly farm, they take care of it. I use the water/honey after it cools as a liquid fertilizer, in conjunction with bsfl juice & urine, using a hose end sprayer.

If you want to reuse the better looking comb, you’d be best to freeze it as Ed suggested.

If you reduce the frames to the foundation, all I can think of is to scrub the frames with warm soapy water, then rinsing.


Thanks and sorry for all the rambling. I’m just a bit panicked being my 1st full year and 1st experience with this issue.

I dove into the hive this evening. Not that I really know what I am looking at but out of 20 boards I assessed only 4 in the bottom box looked “normal” and had no larvae, (several beetles that I picked off though).
There were maybe only a few hundred bees but amazingly the queen was there!
So, now panicked again I see the mission as a save the hive vs. Start over situation, althou the I assume it may be unlikely to be able to get their population going as there was no brood or eggs anywhere and and virtually no comb to lay even if she wanted to do so.

I cleaned and scrubbed the bottom box and put the 4 boards back in after picking off the few larvae and betles. Not having any spare drawn comb boards I think I have to try to salvage some of the slime ones covered with larvae (so there would be so we here for new eggs)’ but not sure how to do that. I have been trying to read up on that with Google and youtube. It seems there is a lot of mm info out there about attempts at prevention but not much about larvae infestation and cleanup.

So far I based on what I have read, I washed the boards in a soapy water and gently hose rinsed them off to get off the slime and kill as many larvae as possible. Now going to put them out in the yard and wait for misc bees to come clean them up…no idea if that will work or not…can’t believe everything I read on the internet.

Any thoughts if this is a reasonable path?

…also forgot to say I sprayed the ground below where I will set the boards out tomorrow as I am sure some larvae may still be alive and hope that would kill them.
I have not searched for the time period for hatching but o not plan to to reintroduce any until there is no chance of new larvae ppearing.


Hi Nick,

Just see below a section from the Australian Beekeeping Guide by Goodman and Kaczynski, page 103

“Health warning for beekeepers
The slime on combs and hive material of beetle infested
hives contains the yeast, Kodamaea ohmeri. There have
been some reports of this organism being an opportunistic
pathogen in humans. The Queensland Department of
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry advises beekeepers who
clean slimy material to wear gloves and a P2 or N95 face
mask and to apply water-proof dressing to exposed broken
skin. When the cleaning is completed beekeepers should
immediately shower and put on clean clothes. Anyone with
a weakened immune system should not clean SHB affected


Yikes! Too late for that…although I did have my bee suit gloves on. Based on reading that I’d think they would advise just disposing on slimed hives.

I inspected my other beehive right next to this one, (My 1st hive which I split, the Flowhive setup) and they seem to be doing fine and no sign of larvae and only a few beetles to smash…of course 3 weeks ago both hives appeared in great condition with no signs of any SHB and now hive #2 is dessimated. I had no idea it could go from clean to covered with larvae so fast!
A lot of articles keep telling me over and over “do not disturb your hives any more than necessary”, but I think I’m going to need to go into them much more frequently.


Not insecticide I hope.


Talstar insecticide…actually more poured\soaked the area around the hives and where I did the tear down and around tree base at night once they should have all been in and where I will put out the boards to see if bees really will come clean them up to salvage anything.
I soaked the boards just in soapy water to clean the goo and try to kill the larvae then rinsed with clean water…Again, doing what I have been reading to do…hoping that answers on the internet are always correct. :roll_eyes:

It sounds like I really should freeze the boards…probably not going to have any luck finding a neighbor to let me use a deep freezer I’m sure!


Can the larvae get into capped honey? Most of what I saw on the infested boards was all open, dark and glistening. Several of the boards with larvae crawling around though had capped honey sections; some dark, some light. Should I consider it all to be ruined?


Nick, forget about youtube & google. I’m as expert on SHB as anyone.

It wont work putting the queen with a few hundred bees on the 4 best looking frames. The sliming will continue because you don’t have enough bees to stop the beetles from doing more damage. You need those 4 frames to be completely covered in worker bees & more for it to work.

If you can quickly boost the population to that extent, that’d be great, otherwise you’ll have to chalk it down to experience.

I learned one thing about SHB over the past 18 years & I hope you take it on board. How ever strong a colony is, make sure the frames that don’t have a good covering of bees on them don’t contain brood or pollen. It’s ok if those frames are empty frames, drawn comb or even frames containing honey. You just don’t want any of those frames to contain any brood or pollen. It’s brood, pollen as well as dead & dying bees that beetles target to lay eggs in, on account of the protein/amino acid they contain.


Thanks for the advice @JeffH. I would have taken it if I had known earlier and if I were set up in a situation to do so but with 1 failing slime hive and 1 ongoing good 1st full year hive which could be doing better I don’t have the tools or supplies like extra boardspecial to share

soWow, that’s not what I wanted to hear unfortunately…especially since those 4 boards have no eggs or brood that I can see; just honey, some empty comb aND 2 boars wit almost no comb. The new queen is there and maybe a few hundred bees but nowhwere near enough bees to protect the hive then based on what your are saying.
I was in a limited knoledge and resource deficit situation being new.
What options do I have to get a quick boost in bees and brood other than to take several boards and the bees on them from my other hive?
My other hive by the way seems to have a good population of bees and does not “appear” to have a SHB problem, ( I thought the same of the problem hive a few weeks ago when adding the new queen), but it also has very little brood for some reason; spotty, maybe 10 here and there on each of a few of the 20 boards and no new eggs I could find in either top or bottom box…just a lot of honey honey honey on most of the boards or pollen and some empty cells. I don’t know where the queen would lay if she could. There is a queen (newly added about 3 weeks ago here too) but she is doing nothing as far as I can tell. So I fear something is on the verge of going bad with this box as well( 2 deep x 10 boards and partially full flowive ready to tap.), and maybe mor ef I rob some bees and boards.

Do I have any other alternatives than what I mentioned to try saving the hive and the new ($80 bucks delivered) queen? Do I risk reducing the strength of the first box stealing a few boards of bees and little brood? Or do I give up on the weak hive, capture the queen and try to find someone who could use one and just go back to trying to figure out what may be starting to go wrong with the 1st box if anything.
I may have mentioned, I was thrown into this “hobby” last year as a birthday gift surprise and a new nuke. I managed to keep them alive and thriving over this last winter through now. They were so abundant I was told split them before they abscond…so I did ; bought two new queens and
installed in less than optimal cold spring weather and
hung along until they were accepted and doing well…until she disappeared one day when I noticed a large population number dop. So the earliest 2nd box had no queen, no eggs, no brood and was weak…I was told get a new queen in their fast, which I did…then told keep he in the end cage with the candy plug in until they accept her and she works her way out for best survival chance which she did…but by then it is clear to see wit no new bees hatching for 3 weeks and me being told not to go in there to distrtub them for the same length of time, this is where the fail accelerated into what mm I have now. :frowning_face::slightly_frowning_face::confounded:
I’m new…being new I bypass rational thinking and I want! , I see as a challenge to keep this hive alive. So what I do have is a queen bee and for not so slimed boards of mostly packed full of honey and 2 boards with basically nothing on them except a fee blobs of comb here and there with honey.
Where can I go from here?
Rob the good hive of bees and boardand hope they stay and hope for the best and that it wont weaken them…
Or give up, capture the $80 queen and try to find someone else in need of one and give up on the 2nd hive. :confounded


Hi Jeff- could Nick put the tiny colony in a small nuc box and see how they go?


Nick, you could probably, during nice weather swap the 2 hive’s positions. The returning bees from the strong hive will return to the weak hive & vice versa. If you had them close together & the returning bees from the strong hive still want to go back to it, you could turn it away 90 degrees. That will insure the returning bees do go into the weak hive.

Having said that, you’ll need to be careful you don’t have too many frames in the strong hive for the reduced population to manage. Just pay particular attention to that. Otherwise it will get slimed.

If you can latch on to what I said in my last paragraph of my last reply, that is the key to not getting slimed.

Now, SHB’s are as bad around my way as anywhere. I don’t lose any sleep about beetles & I don’t use any traps or baits. What I do do is everything, I mean everything that I do with my bees, SHB is taken into consideration. SHB’s are always at the back of my mind.