When it’s time to purchase new beehives for the coming year, have you ever found your mind drifting towards discovering a beehive-tree that gives you everything for free? Maybe you’d plant your crown board tree, your broodbox tree, a couple of frame bushes and plant your wax foundation tubers… Equipment is expensive! And if your goal is to expand your apiary, you’ll end up buying a lot of it. I’ve never discovered any trees that grow brood boxes, but I have been fortunate enough to be offered some old beehives.
A friend of my father knew of a beekeeper who quit, a couple of years ago. His beehives were empty and getting in the way. So, I got a few old hives delivered on my doorstep! The hives are different from the type I have and buy; the wooden Simplex hives. These are hives that are common in the north of Belgium, and they have the same frame size that is used in the British WBC hive and the Dutch Spaarkast. The hives I got for free are styropor Segeberger hives. These Segebergers are a reasonably wide-spread German type of hive, uses a slightly larger frame and are known for their good insulation. They are very lightweight, thanks to not being made of wood.
Now I say that I got free hives. Which is true, I didn’t pay money, but I will end up paying for them by working to get them clean. These hives have been abandoned for two of three years. There were hundreds of wax moths inside and almost all of the comb had already been eaten. The larvae have also burrowed through, into the walls of the hive. I found a wasp’s nest in one of them, and a mouse had made a home in another one. All in all, not a pretty sight.
I think the previous beekeeper must have gotten overwhelmed or gotten physically ill. The seals on most of these hives hadn’t been broken and the propolis seals seemed intact. So, I think these hives were given up before being checked on the inside and they were certainly not cleaned up.
I know many beekeepers who are reading this are thinking about all the diseases these hives could be harboring. I thought about that too, which is why I’m going to be very careful in restoring these hives and sanitizing them. I will make a post out of all the steps I’m taking, there are several that are needed! It’s possible that I’ll end up throwing out quite a bit of what I got because it’s too damaged. I’ll try to salvage what I can and most of all; not introduce any diseases to my bees.