The Solution to Hive Beetles - or, Who's Living in my Hive?

"Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt – marvelous error! –
That I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
And sweet honey
from my past mistakes."
- Antonio Machado

Well, I think I may have found the solution to hive beetles and maybe even wax moth!  Ha!

Did she kill the bee or did she eat one that died naturally from old age or the horribly cold winter we had?  The hive was full of "fresh" dead bees.  I feed them to my songbirds at the feeders when I clean out a dead hive.

Black Widow spiders!  Ha!

I went into winter with 3 hives and one died so I split its contents (honey, pollen, and comb) between the other two to keep until Spring (as they and the freezing temperatures will do a better job of protecting it than any other means I have), but this meant that there was lots of open space in the hives.  Well one of them, Organza, had heavy winter losses and I was concerned she may have died (we had 60mph winds and lows in the single digits this winter), so I went in to inspect Thursday since it was in the 70s and sunny.  I found the hive alive and well (with Queen) though the bee ball was about the size of my fist and loose.  Since temperatures have warmed and the hive has plenty of food, I feel she will do okay.

Anyway, enough background info, get this, I found 7!  seven! Black Widows IN THE HIVE.  I have issues with hive beetles in my hives (no mite issues as many others do) and had seen a couple wax moth larvae at the top when inspecting on a cooler day (but not going further into the hive because it was too cold).  Well, not a single hive beetle in the entire hive!  and no signs of wax moth or their larvae I had seen earlier.

Such Sheer Beauty.

I think the huge population loss was from the weather, but I s'pose the Black Widows may have played a role too?  So maybe not truly an answer, but an interesting consideration nonetheless.  Black Widows are not hunters; they stay put in their webs, so any insect they eat has to basically go to them.  I imagine the bees could learn where they are and stay away (in situations such as this where there is lots of space in the hive).  Seems this type of thing would happen naturally in hives in trees.  Also, I have a feeling the Black Widows were merely being opportunists (food, warmth, protection from the elements) and not ravaging killers.

I took the spiders out gently and put them in the woods to go about their lives elsewhere.  I am just glad I didn't get bit as I know to be careful where I put my hands and bare feet in the yard, but never thought of the danger in my hive.  I don't wear gloves when working the bees and had put my hand right into the area where I spotted the first Black Widow, pictured above.  Ack.  Never considered there being something more dangerous than a bee sting in the hive!

Organza is getting renamed because of this, from now on she will be called 'Friend of the Widow.'  :)

Harvested Propolis for Medicine-making.

I cleaned up the extra supers and got Friend of the Widow down to 3 medium supers, two full of honey and pollen and one just open comb.  Some of this honey will go on my new packages that are coming soon along with the cleaned up open comb supers I took off - no Black Widows!

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