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Can someone help identify issue this please?

Hi there. After 2 wonderful years my original hive has gone haywire. It’s current state is brood, ideal, flow frame. I’m in Katoomba, NSW Australia. Last inspection the ideal had plenty of honey and the flow did as well. I harvested one ideal frame and one flow frame (although there was the back leak through the hive which has never happened before). Last inspection about 7weeks ago. Yesterday the ideal was completely empty and this cell was there. Flow frames were pretty good and about 50% honey. (Queen has laid above the excluder?) and this brood frame looks potentially very problematic and diseased? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

In the first photo, you show a “queen cup”. Without a view down inside it, it isn’t possible to know whether it is populated or not. I would guess not, given your second photo, and the fact that it was perhaps above the excluder. Given that info, I would say that perhaps your bees were feeling compressed for space or just feeling swarmy, and decided to swarm.

Second photo shows a largely emerged brood frame, consistent with a swarm, or an absconding. It is impossible to tell the difference without more photos of the rest of the hive.

Therein lies the problem. If you want to stop swarming, you need to inspect every week to 10 days. In seven weeks, you can lose more than half of your hive, and never know. Your brood frame just looks empty to me. Not diseased, but probably not enough nurse bees/heater bees to help the last few pupae emerge.



The first photo looks like a queen cup that the bees are extending.

That second photo looks disturbing to me. You’ll need to remove those broken & sunken caps to see what’s under them. Hopefully it is all chalk brood. You’ll need to check every one in order to eliminate the possibility of AFB. You may need to engage some professional help. I would check on the rest of the brood as well.


Just one more comment. There are a lot of perforated brood caps in your second photo. I have seen that with absconding and swarming - any brood which can go, will go, and the rest is left behind. With those punctured caps, I think the nurse bees were probably trying to let out anyone who was nearly ready. If they did that too soon, they were delivering premature bees - not a good scenario.

My humble opinion is that if you had AFB or some bacterial problem, the brood caps would be more sunken and look wetter. Just one person’s thoughts. You might want to get an inspector to take a look, rather than somebody half way around the world. :blush:

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Looks to me like a hive that swarmed and the new queen died for some reason. Do you have another hive?


Hi there ,
I do have another hive which I received the colony of 6 months ago from a very reputable seller in spring and it’s been a problem from the start with chalk brood. That hive is good and getting stronger. Although I still see chalkbrood. And I am unfamiliar with very dark honey(?) cells in top corners of some frames and the cells are all wonky shape. Apart from that …:relieved:

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Thanks Dawn, I think it’s very unlikely it’s AFB in my region but obviously won’t rule it out. I do have a lot less bees so they have swarmed at some point. I’m surprised if it’s because they didn’t have enough room , as I put the ideal on for just that reason, but I’m so inexperienced it may have been not enough brood space and I should have but another brood box on. Anyway I will replace that frame with a new one. Do I just get rid of this old one?

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“Just one person’s thoughts. You might want to get an inspector to take a look, rather than somebody half way around the world. :blush:

That was a bit harsh Dawn, she needed some advice and did not ask you in particular, being halfway around the world, as you say. Let the good vibes of the forum flow, sit back with a coffee and watch you bees and relax.

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I think Dawns (and Jeffs) statement is pertinent. My first thought when I saw the perforated caps was AFB but have now learned something new with the swarming process. And from the other side of the world too… :wink:
Forums are a great start but for piece of mind…

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I agree, both were pertinent and constructive, it was only the part quoted that I thought was not needed, and I thought out of character.
I think our false Summer has finished with a drop of 6c min and max the past 2 days and more to come, it was good while it lasted though.

Hey Peter, hold on and look closely at the advice of Dawn and such.
That brood frame could hold anything. Not much sunken brood, yet. Could be early stage, or late stage and I see what could be AFB scales in abandoned cells.
From far away, seeing that frame, I’d say, have somebody do a real check.
I had the unfortune to detect a late stage AFB once, and there were not many brood cells at all any more to put a test stick in. It was almost all scales in the cells. Bit like what I see here.
Looked a bit like this frame. But these cells are not sunken. Yet, I would get a pro in to check.

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It wasn’t meant to be harsh, it was just intended as a caveat emptor type of disclaimer. I could be wrong with my opinion, and I don’t want her to suffer because of that. That’s all. :blush:


That sounds like wet cappings on honey, which is normal. Don’t discard it without getting an experienced beekeeper to look at it (or post a picture here if you like) - it could be valuable to another hive, or you could even extract it. Wonky shaped cells in the corners can often be drone cells. Sometimes bees repurpose old drone cells for honey storage when they don’t need the drones any more.

Just for the record, I only mentioned that you’d need to check under each cap in order to rule out AFB.

I think a good idea would be to take photos of the rest of the brood frames, then email them with a message to the DPI to see if they think the frames need closer examination.

Just going by that frame, it doesn’t look like the colony recently swarmed. More like the population has dwindled on account of whatever is under those broken & sunken caps.

Edit: An examination of the rest of the brood frames should reveal recently occupied queen cells if the colony had swarmed.

I’d need a closer look, but I think I can see chalk brood mummies behind some of those perforated cells.

Hi Dawn,
for the record i didn’t take any offence to any of your remarks - totally understood your tone and I thought it was absolutely fine :slight_smile:

Here are 2 pics:
One of the 2nd hive (with the wonky cells).
And for the record a top down view of the 1st hive brood box (this is the same box with the end frame with the partially open cells that various advice of swarming, to afb, to mites!) I am getting an experienced keeper to come over to advice.

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I have been squinting to look closely at the pics and I don’t see anything to be concerned about. The abnormal shaped cells on the sides is what I have seen when the foundation is a bit shorter than the frame size and to put it in my own words, they are cell shaped bridging cells that will seldom be used. The comb is dark as it is not a new foundation and fresh drawn comb and the honey is nicely capped. The bees are happy to use the frame, obviously.
As for the wax deposits on the top of the frame it is commonly seen even on new frames and foundation, I could be wrong but I see it as more wax being made than is needed for comb so it is put there ‘out of the way’.
The darkness of the comb is because wax is translucent, if the comb was on new foundation it would look like new comb. There is nothing that I can see that is of concern in my opinion.

Thank you for the reassurance. I hate to be seen as rude. :blush:

Very glad to hear it, although as Peter says, I don’t see anything worrying in your photos. The top photo does show “wet cappings”. Some hives make these, and others make “dry cappings” by leaving a tiny air space under the cap. There is no difference in the honey quality.

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