Debris in Flow Hive 2 bottom tray - egg husks of some kind?

Hi there, first post from me, although I have been doing lots of reading of books and these boards since we got our Flow Hive 2 in November '18. We are in north west Sydney.

We have two full brood boxes and added a flow super about 6 weeks ago but they’re still filling in the comb and aren’t storing there yet. We have been using an Apithor trap since setting up the hive. The bottom multifunction tray usually gets checked most days, and we have found the odd dead SHB and a handful of wax moth larvae in the tray. We haven’t seen any evidence of wax moth in the hive itself.

Today when I looked at the bottom tray after about 3 days, there was quite a bit of fine, red/brown debris that looks like very fine husks, almost like sawdust. I haven’t seen this type of debris before. Close up picture here showing some pollen balls. We did a quick inspection to beat the storm and found a lot of capped brood and empty brood cells. No evidence of SHB, wax moth visible.

Any ideas? Many thanks :slight_smile:

Further explanation to the above, the photo is quite zoomed in, the yellow blobs are pollen packets. Under a hand lens, the brown husk-looking things look like either egg casings or seed casings. These made up almost all the debris present. I have looked at photos of SHB eggs, and I think if it was that, there would be more than one or two SHB in the bottom tray. If they are seed casings I don’t know how so many would get into the hive to be dumped in the tray.
Could they be bee egg casings? I just wouldn’t have thought that there would be so many at once.
Hopefully someone can help with what they might be and whether it indicates a problem. thanks :slight_smile:

Hard to say without a microscope. They may be seed casings, or I have seen very similar fragments from opening and closing an empty (but waxed by bees) Flow frame. Tiny rice shaped fragments of wax and propolis often drop out if the frames have no honey in them.

If you feel like mailing them to California, USA, I have a microscope and a set of stains. :smile:

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They should have access to a microscope themselves because Michelle used to be a research scientist & now teaches biology & her husband is an Ag scientist. It will be interesting to know the findings.


Thanks everyone. I went to see what was there today, and there is more of the same debris, but less overall than what I saw the first time.
I do have a microscope on hand, here is what I found:

100X TM, overhead illumination. They do look like seed husks of some kind, and there also looks like yellow pollen grains stuck in them, which would be consistent with it being of plant origin. The wax flakes present were distinctly different, very white and semi-crystalline in appearance.
I guess whatever it is from has just shed a whole batch of seeds, is it possible the bees have brought it back with the pollen? And it has fallen through to the tray as they groom/clean?


I haven’t seen anything like it. I wonder if the ‘husk’ is hollow? If so it could be an insect ‘egg’ that has hatched. If it is a ‘seed’ I would wonder why bees are collecting them.
What I would do is contact the Dept of Agriculture in the NSW Government, and send them an email with the pics and offer to send some samples to them, I think the Taree office is the right one to contact.
Look forward to an update.

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Beautiful images. I submit that they are definitely plant origin, and may well be anthers, given the amount and distribution of pollen on them. Perhaps an over-enthusiastic bee and her buddies accidentally took the pollen and the gonad with it! :smile:

Thank you for the gorgeous photos, it is a rare treat to see such beauty close up. :blush:


Thanks Peter, Yes, they are definitely hollow. They are all split vertically, and the material has vertical ridges on it which makes me think it isn’t an egg shell. I am pretty sure the little yellow balls inside the husk are pollen grains, they are stuck inside and onto the surface of many of them.
In the 90’s I worked at NSW Ag at BCRI Rydalmere, and if it still existed I could have wandered upstairs to visit my entomology friends, and taken it on a short stroll to the electron microscope unit, or across campus to AQIS. We often got envelopes full of carpet fluff sent in by the public to search for mystery critters and would have a little chuckle at their expense usually. The demise of that institute upsets me to this day.
I will look up where to send a sample and hope they don’t laugh at me :blush:


Anthers are the male part of the plant, not an “egg shell”. They do split longitudinally, exactly like that. Here is a collection of photos and some drawings to help you see what I mean. :wink:

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Yes, I agree, I don’t think it is an egg shell. I’m wondering if it might be from grass, as it seems that although wind pollinated, bees apparently do collect grass pollen. anther%20close%20up
The anther in this picture looks similar and appears to have the same kind of ‘empty’ look. It might also explain the huge numbers and the size.


Anthers would fit the criteria with pollen being inside the ‘husk’ and the consistent size of them. I like your logic Dawn.:wink:


Just happened upon this thread, hello Michelle @BeeCreative. I too appreciate your inquiry and beautiful microscopic images! As I read your reply about “if it still existed I could have wandered upstairs to visit my entomology friends” I had such a wistful feeling :pensive: :cherry_blossom:

I can attest to bees collecting grass pollen - we spent this past weekend in Mystic, Connecticut after taking our daughter to college nearby, where salt marsh grasses are just starting to go to seed. I saw many stalks thick with lovely ivory-colored pollen during a walk and sure enough, there came a bumblebee!


It has been said that queen excluders damage bees wings: Could that be bee wing debris that has been torn off as they pass through the excluder?

No web-like network of veins in it (only longitudinal plant-type veins). Bee wings are thinner (more translucent and less green/brown/yellow) and have a lacework of veins. :blush:

I am sticking with anthers! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Most of the claims about wing damage being done by QX’s are made by bee keepers who are against using a QX for some other reason, people who use a QX don’t seem to find wing damage on their bees. I think that story is an ‘urban myth’ as is the one that bees won’t go through a QX… All of my hives have a QX on them and I haven’t seen any evidence of either Ed… Sure older bees can can suffer wing damage as a part of life for them but that can happen in a hive without a QX.

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Found this debris in the bottom of our hive. The hive was a split made a month ago. Queen is there but has not started laying. Are the white pieces chalk brood? Can anybody help?

No photo? :face_with_raised_eyebrow: