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Mice & Moths In The Hive

I always love when I catch bees making little mistakes with m camera–like falling when landing.  It happens a lot.  Bees are not perfect creatures.

I headed out to the hives to check my frame situation.  A friend works at a local nature center and they need a few extra frames full of honey for programs.  They will extract the honey for us and we do a good deed loaning out our frames.  Seemed like a win/win to me.  As Non Birding Bill and I check on the frames we’d be donating, I just peaked into all of the hives.  We started the summer with 8 hives but we are ending with 6–not bad.

We left our two empty hives out this summer–my thinking was that 1. the other hives would rob the stores of the empty hives and incorporate the little honey that was there into their own hives and 2. if any of the other hives decided to swarm, they might take over one of the empties.  No honey bee swarms took them over, but other critters did.  When I looked into one, I found tons of webbing between the frames.  I had a suspicion of what was going on and took out a frame.

The frame is full of larvae and webbing–we’ve go wax moths!  It’s a type of moth that you see sometimes for sale at bird stores or bait stores.  The moths lay their eggs in wax, the larvae eat the wax and their webbing makes a mess.  If you have a healthy hive the workers keep them out.  Since this hive was void of bees, the moths made themselves at home.  The infestation is bad, the larvae is on every frame.  They will die when it gets cold, but they could burrow in to the wood before then.  I’m half tempted to set the frames out at the bird feeders.  I have a feeling that the chickadees and titmice would make short order of them.

I checked our other empty hive and found some holes in the frame.  It knew this was familiar but couldn’t quite remember what it meant.  We took it apart to put it in storage and then I remembered what this meant:

As I lifted the floor–we found three mice–the little stinkers! They are always trying to move into one of our hives.  We took the hive completely apart and booted out the mice.

They had a nice little grass nest underneath.  I can’t blame them for trying, but the little plague carriers are going to have to find a new spot to live in.

The occupied hives are doing well.  I did have to chuckle that on our plastic hive…

…there was a teeny frog soaking up the sun.  Do you see it?

I originally called this a toad, but an alert reader told me that this is a Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor).  It was very small, a young frog and was about the same size as a drone.  It was certainly not after the bees.  It was far enough away from the entrance so as not to attract the attention of the workers or the guard bees.  I do love how it looks like it has a huge grin, as if this one wee frog has the entire world figured out.

7 comments to Mice & Moths In The Hive

  • omg, the toad is adorable! As for the wax worms, my chickens would swoon at such an offering. (WWs are actually quite expensive for what you get and don’t last long. Have you considered a sideline? ;-)

  • The toad is adorable, I can’t help but smiling back at it.
    Wax moth larvae have been a hit with the tits and blackbirds around here, so I guess your feeder guests will probably like the, too. I bought them for my rodents, but they didn’t like the thick skin of the larvae, with the exception of one mouse who learned how to bite off the head and then squeeze the body of the larva to squirt the insides into her mouth. Disgusting, but totally cute at the same time.

  • Nicki

    That’s not a toad, it’s a Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor). Cute little guy!

  • Thanks, Nicki. I demonstrate once again that I’m not FrogChick, I’m Birdchick.

  • I love this post. The toad is really cute–don’t think I’ve seen one that small. I have several flower beds where I use fieldstones and the toads live in them. I had the same problem with web moths when I brought some honey frames in last spring and didn’t harvest right away. What a mess.

  • That frog is hilarious.

    Do you like the plastic hives? Do you insulate them in the winter?

  • I’m not sure how I feel about the plastic hive yet. Neil wanted to experiment and picked it out. When I first saw it I though, “Hives aren’t supposed to be plastic, they’re wood. I like wood, I don’t want plastic.”

    Neil said that we started with wood and I think wood is traditional…and he’s right. The big test will be this winter–will plastic keep moisture out. If it does, I will love it.

    I will say that of all the hives, I love the yard hive the best–it only have 8 frames instead of 10 and they are shorter boxes–much easier to lift those then the deep brood box with 10 frames jam packed with pollen and honey.