Dead hives

Discussion in 'Pests and Diseases' started by Whisky Fish, Dec 28, 2013.

  1. Whisky Fish

    Whisky Fish New Member

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    Hi folks,
    A friend gave me four hives a few months back and I did a quick rehab on the lids. My plans were to let them alone till spring and provide the with all new equipment and move the to my place. Just got a call from my friend. Two of four are totally dead. 6 mice were living in one and neither looked good inside. Mind you these hives have gone years without being worked[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    My questions is this as bad as it looks? Should I burn all this equipment? And should I do something with the remaining two hives that are apparently active and healthy. On the outside.
     
  2. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    To a novice these frames may look terrible, but to one who has kept bees for years they look like good, solid frames that have served many generations of raising bees. Their dark color comes from the many exuviae of developing larvae that have been added to the original wax deposited by the bees when they were first built. Combs such as these are dark (which, by the way, makes it easy to spot eggs laid inside them) and strong, and resist breaking easily during manipulations and honey extraction as often is the bane of beekeepers when they work with newly built combs.
    That, having been said, doesn't mean they shouldn't be replaced, but they certainly are usable. The collection of pollen inside the fcells will be a great help in the nutrition of a new gneration of bees. A good family or a swarm would make quick work of cleaning them up and putting them back into service. Definitely don''t burn them, unless you can determine that the families died because of disease.
    My practical suggestion would be to use these frames in setting up new families (from bought nucleuses, swarms or divisions from your remaining two hives) in the spring.

    As the families grow, replace these frames with new ones for building. If built during a nice honey flow, on foundation, you should get perfect frames, with only worker cells.
    New frames are important because they will have larger cells (and therefore will allow the bees to raise larger workers) and reduce the risk of accumulation of disease-causing organisms. Honey extracted from new combs will be lighter in color than the same honey extracted from dark combs. As you build new combs, these dark ones can be melted down for their wax (which can be recycled) and the frames (once again, assuming there have been no indications of disease in them) can be re-used for new comb-building if they are strucurally sound.
     

  3. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    I endorse ef's comments relating to disease. As a newbee, you don't need the experience of coping with disease in your first years. If I were given these frames, I would burn the comb and foundation. With old black comb you can only recover a small amount of wax ..... not worth the effort. The old frames look recoverable. With these the way to go is give an initial rough scrape, seal in a box then later, at leisure, a more careful clean and sterilization.

    With left-alone colonies, you don't know when or why they died. The cells have been completely cleaned out which suggests robbing by other insects. If the bees died from disease and were robbed by other honey bees then your other live colonies may contain disease.

    With used boxes, floors and inner covers, I like to flame the inside surfaces (with which the bees will have contact) before using the equipment on my colonies.

    Thanks for the interesting post ------- It will help other newbees.

    If you have other queries, please post ...... again it will help others.