Never say “oops.” Rather say, “ah, interesting.” – Author Unknown
Ah, interesting…. Being the lazy beekeeper I can be sometimes, I did not soon enough get out to clean my empty Langstroth hive. I figured however, that some little critter might get in there and nibble some honey but not a full on hostile hive consumption. My empty top bar hives have not had this issue, guess the little vermin cannot shimmy up the legs. Regardless, live, learn and clean it up. My hive bottom, first medium box, all the wood frames and most of the frames in the second box had been chewed up into bedding and snacks by rodents, likely not of unusual size. In addition, they did their dirty business and P.U. did it smell. Considering my options, I donned gloves (probably should have worn a mask) and set about cleaning up the bottom board with a bleach solution, all the while wishing I had a blowtorch to burn off the top layer. However, about half way through, I quit and decided that the stench and likely nasty germs would hanta-virus me (haunt, hee hee) and future honey no matter what. To the garbage they went. I will replace them next year.
Lesson learned – do not dilly dally to clean out empty hives or at least block the entrance real good. Rodents can squeeze through a pretty small opening so either close the empty hive completely with solid side of entrance reducer or place ¼ inch hardware cloth over the opening. Oooorrrrr just clean it up and put away when you know it is empty. The meese might still get in to a hive full of bees, especially during the cold winter months. Part of your winterizing routine can include reducing the entrance and/or installing a screen or hardware close.
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