Bees carrying larvae? Are they disposing of the dead?

I took off the window cover today and I saw several bees carrying white things. I soon realized they looked like larvae. I then saw a few larvae on the ground outside the hive. Has anyone ever seen this behavior before? Are they disposing of dead brood? Here is a picture.

It’s hard to tell from that picture- but are you sure it isn’t a piece of wax? It doesn’t look like a larvae- but it could be a pupae (otherwise known as the ‘undifferentiated mush’ stage)

Are you going into Winter? I had something similar a few weeks back with pupa outside the hive entrance. I think it was due to cold temps and the edges of the brood nest getting chilled.

I’ve observed bees tearing drone larvae out of cells as if they were rag dolls. No emotions involved in the process whatsoever. I also saw damaged larvae outside of my observation hive, as it turned out, beetles got a chance to do a little bit of damage in one small section. The bees were able to overwhelm the beetle damage & clean it up.

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I agree with the other answers, it is hard to see what that bee is carrying from the photo. However, it is probably completely normal.

Bees are very clean, and if any larvae die, for example from chalk brood, they will remove the bodies and throw them out of the hive. It usually results from chilled brood, which is caused often by inspections in poor weather, or just an unexpected spell of unseasonably cold weather. It would be worth inspecting your brood for signs of chalk brood on a warm day. This article from will give you an idea of what to look for when you inspect:
Chalkbrood – Bee Informed Partnership

The other possibility is that you have very hygienic bees. These bees will control not only chalk brood, but they also detect varroa and other diseases on larvae and throw the infested/infected brood out. You will end up with holes in the brood pattern from rejected larvae, but the queen usually does a good job with refilling them. :blush:

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I know the picture is not too good, but it is definitely a pupae or larvae. There were a few others outside the hive on the ground. Even saw an ant carrying one away. Today I looked through the window and all seemed well. No more pupae sitings.



No sweat ! Sometimes our cameras, lighting, etc don’t do things justice but don’t sweat the small stuff. You did your BEST n got some pretty GREAT answers from the Beeks here !

At least it’s seems not to be serious n kind of looks like a piece of good old DRONE larva to me. Thankz for asking n sharing !



I took this pic a few days ago. Looks like this little lady was on undertaking duties!

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Not quite. In the opinion of the curator of Melbourne Museum, she was actually carrying part of the pollen-laden anther of a flower!

The curator is probably correct Brian. Just recently a member showed images of lots of anthers in the bottom tray of a flow hive. Therefore it must be something that does happen, however not common.

This is one from a couple of years ago.

This is the recent one I was talking about.
There is more images in the title “Saw Dust in the Tray”

Yes, Jeff – I have subsequently seen a photo of a stationary honeybee on a flower with an anther stuffed into her pollen purse. I have yet to find another photo of a bee in flight carrying an anther. I guess I was very lucky to get that shot.

Just after I posted last time, I realised I had attributed that professional comment to the Curator of Melbourne Zoo. What I meant to say was the Curator of Melbourne Museum. I could not find a way to edit my posting, so I take this opportunity to emend my attribution.

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