Hive invaded by Hive Beetles

I inspected my previously healthy hive today after being away for 4 weeks and found it empty of bees but full of larvae and pupea of what I believe is hive beetle with heaps of what looks like spider web. So I understand I need to now clean up the frames and hive as best I can then freeze them all for at least 24 hours before I start again next season.

Is that the correct course of action ??


There are a few concerns here, the first of which is you need to try and determine why the bees absconded.

Were the bees established this season? or is it an older colony?
Are there any signs of disease in the remaining comb (aside from beetle + spider webs which are wax moth)?
When did you last inspect the brood frames? did you have brood at that time?
Is there any signs of moisture (wet inside or mould) or pests (mice/rats) in the hive?
Is the hive located in any of the areas currently marked with recent AFB incidents?

Please make sure the hive is shutdown (close all entries) ASAP to prevent robbing by other nearby colonies.

Firstly hive is secure. I bought the hive about 18 months ago from a guy who stated his wife was found to be alergic and he included a 5 frame nucleus at that time. After about a month I attached a further 8 frame box and when that filled I attached a modified Flow section and everything was fine. However the bees never really used the Flow section despite spraying with sugar syrup etc. In spring this year the hive swarmed and I was able to catch the swarm which I then added to the nucleus I purchased from you. I had purchaesd a conventional flow hive and you supplied a 5 frame nucleus. When the swarm happened about 2 weeks later I added a second 8 frames with newspaper in between and put the swarm in the second box. They went well together and I was able to harvest some honey about 1 month ago. Still going strong.

The original hive did not seem to be affected immediately but gradually seemd to less “active” but due to inexperience (these are my first hives) I was reluctant to inspect and paid the price. Maybe when they swarmed the remaining queen(if there was one) was not very active and allowed the weakened hive to be overtaken by the moths. When I inspected last saturday after a period away the hive was empty of bees as I stated but from what I have learned on the web there is no evidence of AFB no sticky mess in the brood it seems fairly dry and bereft of honey or live brood.

There were several ants which is to be expected I guess.

The hive is situauted at Carwoola (my sons small acreage) and to the best of my knowledge there are no hives with his immediate neighbours so probably a kilometer to the nearest possible hive.

I suspect the best course of action is to destroy both the boxes and frames by burning, clean the flow hive portion (Which was never really occupied - certainly no evidence of honey) by washing in bleach and freezing and starting again.

So I would be interested in purchasing 16 plastic frames plus the necessary boxes and a nucleus next spring, with a view to adding the flow box in the future.

Thanks for any advice ?

Hi Chris,
Moths don’t take over live hives but are really the product of combs which have been deserted and there are no bees.
Did you happen to notice if there were any empty queen cells around? Gives an idea of whether there was swarming or absconding. What was the weather like in the days after the swarming, I seem to remember after one of my hives swarmed in spring this year that there was a long period of miseable weather such that I was concerned the new queen could mate. Were there any ( many) dead bees around (insecticides) all hives are not necessarily affected.
I guess the take home story is to check the hive 2-3 weeks after swarming to see if you have a laying queen and check the lady made it back safely after her nuptials. You probably won’t see her because new queens always seem to be a bit skittish but you can look for a regular pattern of laid eggs.
You don’t seem to have foul brood so no need for drastic action. Just clean it all up and recolonise the hive next year. Washing with bleach really does not do much but and if the frames are clear of wax they should be ok although freezing is ok if you have the space.

Hi Chris

Sorry to read about the loss of your honey bee colony. Small Hive Beetle (SHB) are a major pest all along the east coast of Australia and this year they are in plague proportions in may apiaries. Managing these is a must for any beekeeper and ensuring that you have a management strategy in place within any hive is a must for successful beekeeping.

Out of interest what type of SHB beetle trap system were you running in your hive?

There are a number of very successful commercially manufactured traps available and most of these work very effectively. Apithor ® , Beetle Jail ®, Beetle Blaster ®, SHB Silver Bullet ® are all good and readily available and I much prefer the Apithor for hives with a solid base hive and the Beetle Blaster for hives with a mesh or vented base and run vegetable oil in the Beetle Blaster which I find is very effective at keeping SHB under control.

As for the clean up, I would recommend placing the contents of your hive in a double wrap of garbage bags and then tying this off in a not and leaving it in the sun to solarise (cook) as this will then kill off the SHB larvae and also any wax moth grubs. That said give it 2 full days in the sun all wrapped up to heat the contents of the bags to the heat required to kill of the insect infestation.

I would then either send the bag with its contents off to landfill or pull the frames out of the bags and clean these up with a high pressure water hose before repairing these, as need be, and placing fresh wax foundation so that they are ready for Spring 2018.

The goop in the bag I would then send off to landfill or burn, its your choice but just remember that SHB pupate in the soil so dont bury these as where any are alive you are then just adding to the problem.

I see in your post that you suggested that the closest hive is at least 1 km away, this sounds like the closest managed hive and this is a good reminder to us all that unmanaged (feral) hives hiving in tree hollows or the like are also plagued by infestations of SHB which has smashed a lot of the feral hives living around the place that were once common in possum boxes, compost bins, tree hollows and the like in and around rural ACT & NSW.

I would keep your boxes, lids, base etc as based on what you have written these will be unaffected BUT you MUST clean these up before putting bees back in them.

I can add you to the Spring 2018 nucleus hive list that I am compiling to get you off to another start in Spring 2018 and these will be available from the 3rd week of October weather permitting.

SHB are a real pest and must be managed, otherwise they will trash a hive very quickly and what you have reported occurring in a matter of weeks is not surprising and exactly what others are reporting in Forrest ACT, Evatt (ACT), Bywong & parts of Queanbeyan (NSW). Commercial beekeepers are along plagued with the problem and try various methods of management to ensure that SHB don’t get a strangle hold of their apiaries.

Lastly, just to clarify a point in your post, Sam RBK) is the owner of the site and is kind enough to host and run this site for the free sharing of beekeeping related information for those in and around Canberra but he is not me (Eric) and whilst we are mates he doesn’t have anything to do with Better Bee Hives so I thought that that was clarifying so you know what his posts are (RBK) and what mine are (BBH).

Kind regards


Hi everyone

I have been tied up a bit over the past few weeks assisting a number of novice beekeepers to harvest honey, requeen and also pack down hives as we head into what is being predicted to be a very cold winter. During these events have inspected a fairly large amount of hives all around the ACT and have noticed a number (but not all) of these have hosted sizeable numbers of small hive beetle in those hives that were not running any form of small hive beetle control.

Just a reminder to make sure you are exercising some method of control for this pest as there is a lot of urban myth out there about ignoring them when you have a strong hive but this is frankly more ‘bee witchcraft’ from people who should know better passing on bad joojoo advice.

A chance meeting with a local today from Forrest who keeps bees identified that they put the traps under their hives as they didn’t want to stress their bees installing the trap inside the hive…, I couldnt help but shake my head and tell them that this was a complete waste of time and effort and that they really did need to learn beekeeping if they were to care for the bees that they keep.

I suggested that at this stage of their journey with bees they were running an insect hotel and where not technically a beekeeper, since they were not demonstrating responsible insect husbandry techniques…

Anyway, please remember not to ignore this pest for the sake of your bees and other beekeepers in the community.



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