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Ants will certianly protect a dead colony, but fire ants will certianly kill a weak colony, and are particularly active from about mid July on till October, Wax Mothes are not a issue to strong colonies, in areas where they are common, should consider combining them to make one strong colony. Empty equipment I personally would rather have the colonies clean them up and restore them by placing them on the colonies, of course the bees will work them.
Barry
 
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