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Dead bees in tray

Hi All, I have this problem for about a month now. I kept finding dead bees in the tray almost daily (about 10 or so) but there were heaps yesterday (after previous day inspection), more than a hundred. Yes, I checked that there are no bees before sliding my tray in each time. And they are mostly worker bees. I have since had a professional beekeeper in to look at the hive but he couldn’t identity the cause of this. According to him the brood box seems fine and that the bees shouldn’t go through the metal mesh. I am very worried about this happening daily and would appreciate to know if anyone has had this issue before and how to overcome it. I have had the hive since October 2020. Thank you.

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Gosh that’s a head scratcher, Siew! It’s good you had an experienced beek confirm that your colony is healthy, but weird that there doesn’t seem to be any way the bees are coming into the tray from inside…the only idea I have is robbers from another colony, but they wouldn’t be attracted to the tray unless there were honey leaking into it.

I recall reading awhile back that the mesh openings became just big enough for bees to get through in places where it had stretched. I think @Dawn_SD posted about it some years ago?

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Hello and welcome to the Flow forum!

From your description of a “tray”, I am assuming that you have a Flow hive 2? The problem that @Eva mentions applies to the Flow hive classic, which has a hardware cloth screen in the bottom board. The Flow hive 2 has a perforated metal plate which is a different concept.

I have just purchased and assembled a FH2 bottom board, as it happens… :wink: One thing that I have noticed is that you have to be very careful with positioning the metal perforated plate. It is quite easy for it to shift out of position, leaving a gap big enough for bees to squeeze through around the back edge. Make sure it is on the right way up too, otherwise bees may be able to squeeze under the front. I would think that is the most likely cause, assuming the plate has not got bent so that the perforations are a bit bigger in some place. I know it means taking the hive apart, but I would take a very close look at your bottom board. :blush:

The only other thing that I can think of is that the vented cover on the back is not being held in firmly by the latches. If there is a gap, bees could get in through that space too.

Maybe @Freebee2 or @Bianca might have some other thoughts. :wink:

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Yes I have the Flow Hive 2. You may be right about the perforated plate being out of position, I could have pushed it without realising when at one time trying to minimise the entrance. I noticed that there are more bees in the section of the tray where the entrance is. Will need to look into this as soon as weather gets better. Thank you very much Dawn.

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I read Dawn’s response and the problem could be the perforated plate being out of position. I will need to check on this as soon as weather gets better. Thank you Eva.

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I’m amazed that the professional beekeeper didn’t notice that.

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I was very disappointed with his service.

You have every right to be disappointed. You engaged him to sort out a specific problem. If it was me, I would have been taking a close look at that perforated plate for any possible damage that would create an opening big enough for a bee to fit through. Therefore he should have spotted the plate out of position.

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Hi Siew. I actually personally experienced this problem just recently and was baffled after an initial inspection too. After a closer inspection, I found the problem.

The problem-hive was at my parent’s house and Dad was finding hundreds of dead bees in the tray. We pulled the hive apart on a warm sunny day and found a hole in the baseboard timber, on one of the front corners and edge of the metal grate. It looked like the bees may have chewed the hole and it was just big enough for a worker bee to move through.

I fixed the problem by moulding some wax into the hole. Dad reports that he hasn’t seen a dead bee in the tray since.

I have no idea why the bees chewed the timber. Perhaps they didn’t and it was caused by something else.

I recommend taking a closer look by removing the brood box and closely inspect for any holes in the timber.

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Thank you Bianca.
I can’t wait to have a thorough check once the weather gets better.

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Hi Bianca, found the issue on both front corners and edge of the metal grate as you have mentioned. Closed them up with wax and have no dead bees for four days now.
Thank you Bianca.
Also thanks to @Eva @Dawn_SD @JeffH

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Wax moth larvae can make holes in timber too, but they are usually only about 2-3mm across. Perhaps if one started a hole, the bees might smell them and have a go at it too? After all, there is often tempting food for wax moths in the tray - wax cappings, pollen, honey drips etc… :blush:

Woohoo! Great to hear, thanks for the update.