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Total Colony loss


Dear fellow flowhivers,

I’m devastated… about six weeks ago, I noticed diminished activity in my hive. I did a full inspection, I had eggs, larva, capped brood, pollen, nectar. I looked for and found the queen. Because of the ongoing dearth in Southwest Florida, I took the super off and started feeding sugar syrup. I did weekly inspections colony seemed stabilized. About three weeks ago, I noticed small larva on the bottom board and thought they may be hive beetles. I looked for and didn’t find adult beetles, but installed traps just to be sure. This past Sunday I did another inspection and unfortunately found that 75% to 80% of my girls wer gone and all but one frame had wax moths infestation. I’ve taken the worst frames (2) out of the hive and placed them in the freezer. For the rest, I scraped off the infestation and placed them back in the hive.

My question is this, would anyone recommend adding a nuc or a new bee package at this time, or should just wait and restart the hive as soon as summer is over.

I’d appreciate any advice you could share.

Thanks in advance,


I would start again next year. So sorry for your loss.


Thanks Dawn_SD that’s what I thought as well…


At least you now know why your colony collapsed. I will agree with Dawn about waiting till your next spring and in the mean time I would make sure the hive is free of any wax moth, as you are positive a frame is ‘clean’ put it in a sealed plastic bag, as for the boxes, etc. I would give them a good scorching with a gas blow lamp or a heat gun on the max. temperature.
Think positive, start up again next year.


Your infestation is more likely SHB rather than wax moth. SHB slime will make the bees abscond, if it’s bad enough. You’ll need to clean everything thoroughly before putting more bees into the hive. A fresh colony could also abscond from the hive & frames if the slime is not cleaned off properly.


Thanks JeffH. I will look into SHB as well.



Why did the colony collapse?


So sorry @siakusha!! One of my colonies succumbed to wax moth infestation around this time last year. It’s a horrifying discovery and an ugly mess to clean up.

A side note to @JeffH - we have two types of this pest here, the Greater and the Lesser wax moth, the Lesser having larvae of a similar size to those of your nemesis SHB. Still, it’s easy to tell the difference between either pest’s work.

Sia have you seen tunnels and chewed comb, cocoons in crevices and webs all through, small dark droppings and no more stores? That’ll definitely be wax moth.

In my hive’s case, I believe they never quite reached a full, bustling population and were compromised by varroa already as a nuc when I set them up. My treatments couldn’t catch up to weakening factors and then the moths were able to get a foothold. Once they multiplied and the combs started to get fouled up I think my bees just absconded. There were only a handful of recently hatched workers running around, struggling to contain the invasion.

Try again next year, Sia, and stay on top of varroa as best you can. You can also make a wax moth trap, just type that in the search area.

Better luck next year :hugs:


You can look in your local papers to see if anyone is moving and needs to find a home for their bees. Additionally, some beekeepers size down prior to the winter after honey harvest and sell off colonies. Chin up! Another thought is that some people feeding during the dearth create swarms and need to thin them out. If it were me I would buy a nuke box and place the current bees in a hive they can rebuild, one that is not so big to see if they could build up. Good luck! I hope your girls make it.


Being in south west Florida bees make brood year round. If you can find a good deal I would go for it. Probably less expensive now then spring. How is the red tide there? Horrible to breath. Interested in any beekeepers experience in affected areas.


Thinking the wax moth did it



Thanks Eva, based on your description below, it was definitely wax moth. The nuc I purchased in April (I know it was late to start a new hive in Florida) had varroa but I treated it with Ox Acid vapor three times as prescribed and didn’t have any issues with that pest post treatment.

As much as I’ve learned over the past few months, I fully recognize that I’m still a newbie and will take the time this winter to study bees as much as I can about the common pests, especially since I really haven’t found/seen a good preventative measure against Wax moths yet.



Thanks Martha, good ideas. Will definitely look at the Sunday paper



Thanks Bubba,

Fortunately I’m inland and far enough away from tbe red tide. It’s horrible. Haven’t been to the beach for a while.



You’re welcome Sia, it sounds like I’m wrong about the beetles. Anyway thoroughly cleaning the hive & frames wont go astray.



My understanding is that wax moth will not take out a colony. If a colony is strong it will keep wax moth at bay and from what I’ve read SHB is the same.
@siakusha, are you treating for mites?


Brilliant question. I have had a horrible time with them this year. Don’t get complacent if Varroa is in your area. :cry:


I think the wax moth was a by product of the colony’s demise. The colony is always under attack from small hive beetles and wax moths but they defend against it when they are strong. A declining hive slowly loses it’s ability (most specifically bee population) to defend the entire hive.


Hi skeggley, I treated for mite with vaporized OX Acid as prescribed when I initially got the hive going. In my routine inspections I checked for mites and hadn’t found any


How did you check? Just looking? Or sugar roll or something else? :wink:

We don’t teach new beekeepers well enough. You can’t and won’t see 99.999% of Varroa mites. If you want an accurate number, you need to do a sugar roll, alcohol wash, or accelerated mite drop. Not wanting to beat you up here, but mites are dangerous things. :blush:

I probably have to treat 3 times per year now, and even then, a weak colony can be lost. :cry: