I was still deeply concerned about the older larger hive, but decided to try not to worry too much.
The following week we packed our bags and went to the Smoky Mountains for a family vacation. Eight days later we returned home and I had to plan a large event for work and my time was tied up with last minute details revolving around that event. It was an additional week before I was able to get around to checking on the hive again. To say I got a surprise would be an understatement. I opened the top on the hive and got a face full of moths. I was so disgusted by what I found, the entire hive was desecrated by wax worms!
Waxworms are the larval stage of the Wax Moth in the family Pyralidae which are the snout moths. There are two species that are often bred for fish bait and are often called waxies by bait shop owners and fishermen. They are favored by fishermen who enjoy catching small game fish like sunfish, but for beekeepers they are a nightmare. They are a parasite of bees and feed on the honey comb, beeswax, shed skins of bees, pollen and cocoons. They can destroy a weakened beehive in no time. A strong, healthy hive functioning with all members can usually fight off a waxworm threat. A divided hive with no queen is severely weakened and would not be able to deal with a scourge like waxworms. Which is essentially what happened to my hive.
This fall when the weather cools down I will clean up the mess in the hive and sterilize it. Next spring I will try once again to raise a successful hive. The smaller hive I had I gave to Shannon to hand over to another bee keeper so as not to risk it getting contaminated with waxworms. So hopefully next spring will turn out better.