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Dead bees at entry


Hi - I am a newbie with my bees for 5 week - in Hervey Bay, Qld). Hive appears to be strong with good bee activity and numbers.

This yesterday I noticed a number of dead bees that appeared white and partially decomposed at the entry to the hive. This morning there was 6 and some more on the ground. Originally I suspected chalk brood but it was pointed out to me that the bees were too well developed for this. On closer inspection it appears all the bees are drones?

After some advice:

  • What is occurring here? Are these natural deaths or are the workers removing 'surplus" drones?

  • Do I need to mange my hive differently to account for this?



Hi Dan, it could be a number of things. The first thing that I think of is SHB damage. You’ll need to do a brood inspection to see what’s going on. SHBs get started on drone brood because it is the least defended brood by the workers. Especially large areas of drone brood that have lots of recently emerged drones covering it. Those recently emerged drones make life difficult for the workers that are trying to defend against the beetles. They just get in the way.


Thanks Jeff

While I have had some SHB I am averaging only 2-4 a day on the bottom board. Have just received some traps so will look at installing these at my next opportunity.

I did do an inspection on Sunday. Noted:

  • No obvious evidence of smb or grubs on frames

  • a number of drone bees were spotted (alive and well)

  • 1 patch of drone brood was observed (~30 cells).


That all sounds good Dan. Don’t necessarily look for beetle larvae as such. Look to see if the combs are all in tact. If you see that the combs have been roughly chewed around the edges, even to the point of chewing holes through the comb, that will be SHB doing that. They chew through the comb & lay their eggs at the base of the cells. Then the eggs hatch before the larvae consumes the brood from the base of the cell first.

A strong colony will arrest this problem before it gets out of hand. In doing so, they will discard the affected brood, which will be evident outside, on the ground.