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Dried up Larvae?


#1

Hi everyone, new beekeeper here from Hawkesbury, NSW. We’ve had our hive for about two and a half weeks and they seem to be doing really well. We inspected the hive 2 days ago and they seemed to be doing great with lots of brood and pollen.

. Then today I checked the bottom board and found all these little grey and white things that looked almost like dried larvae. Sorry if the photo is a bit bad but if you zoom in on some of them you can see them better. Just wondering if anyone knew what they were.
Thankyou


#2

These are chalk brood mummies.
https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/animal-industries/bees/diseases-and-pests/chalkbrood

Did you check the cells also to see if they contained any?

This isn’t a major number of chalk and as long as the colony is kept strong you should be ok. Definitely keep an eye on it though to ensure the number of mummies doesn’t increase.

Make sure you clean up any mummies, especially off the bottom board as you don’t want other bees walking through/past them.


#3

Thankyou for replying RBK,
Is there anything I should do? How do I get rid of it?
Thankyou


#4

I would be contacting the beekeeper who sold this hive as due diligence was not done. Chalkbrood spores remain viable for decades so can return at any time. I would show these photos to where you bought them and ask for a disease free colony in return. It’s a bit harsh, but as a new beekeeper you deserve better. Chalkbrood can be remedied but never cured, and you’ll need to be an experienced beekeeper to overcome it, our recent wet and humid weather is not helping and now the night time Temps are getting cooler making it difficult for a hive with this condition.


#5

Chilled brood is what causes chalkbrood. The fungus can’t reproduce at normal brood temperatures. Sometime there was more brood than the bees could keep warm.


#6

Thanks for replying. Would it not be too late in the season to get a new colony of bees? And if we were to get a new colony were would we put them in, in a new hive? We are feeding the colony sugar syrup (2:1) with the ziplock bag method, could this be the cause of chilled brood as we are opening the roof every day/ every second day to place new syrup?


#7

I wouldn’t have thought it cold enough to chill the brood yet and if you are only lifting the lid and replacing the feed within a minute or two you should be right. Also, the colony has contracted the disease from transferrance and considering the short amount of time you have had this hive, it most certainly came from the breeder.
Still not too late to get bees, winter is still a while away. I am extracting honey at the moment and should be able to extract again before our mild Sydney winter.


#8

What would we do with out existing colony and flow hive?


#9

There is no treatment as far as I am aware. Are your Flow frames on or off the hive? As for the hive box and frames, you could cut out the wax place into sealed plastic bags and dispose into the garbage, otherwise render down for candles. Disinfect the hive box with bleach and re-paint or seal with whatever you used initially to coat the timber (there will still be some spores, but its a numbers game).
We you able to contact the person you got the bees from and ask if they could be replaced? Most breeders are very good. I had a swarm that was infected with chalkbrood, tried everything under the sun to get rid of it, luckily there was a good strong nectar flow on and I had a young laying queen who managed to replace the dead workers at a rapid rate, a couple of months later I re-queened with hygienic stock from Victoria and after several months the chalkbrood disappeared. Several years on and still no more chalkbrood from that hive, but I can no longer use them to breed or share frames, they are contaminated for life, and by practising a self managed quarantine on that hive, at least it shouldn’t spread to my other hives.


#10

Sorry I meant * with * our existing colony and flowhive. No we only have the brood box on with ‘normal’ frames (with wax foundation). We haven’t contacted the supplier as they are closed now but will hopefully tomorrow. Thankyou for all the help


#11

I’m battling chalk brood at present too. By the way, I was told by the Government agricultural expert, that last year it was the number one disease in Australia - in loss of production terms (or something like that). I would check your screen at the base of the hive for mummies that have become wedged in the mesh and therefore stay in the hive possibly adding to infection rate. If your hive is off the ground, I found that a mirror under the screen can help you see if there are mummies there without pulling the boxes off . If they are, you have to get to the bottom screen by lifting the top box off. I found quite a few mummies all caught in the mesh. I’d also perhaps see if there was a way of condensing the hive a bit (may be tricky in your case) as perhaps there has been too much room in the box for the number of bees allowing the brood to become chilled.


#12

Today I checked the bottom board and there were less mummies than the other day but there were a few very small larvae (alive) on the bottom board?


#13

I’m not sure what the larvae are…if I saw larvae on the corflute I would suspect wax moth larvae having fallen down from the comb above. I’d suggest grabbing one if you haven’t already and search the internet to for clues as to what it is. In relation to the chalkbrood, I have moved the corflute up to the top slot a few days ago on two of my affected hives. In each case upon removal of the corflute from the slot tonight and and looking up under with a torch and mirror, I could not see any chalkbrood mummies wedged in the wire mesh, which was a problem for me when the corflute was in the lower slot. I assume that bees are removing the mummies from the hive over the ledge inside the front, and taking them away now they are not falling through the mesh and not getting wedged in the mesh with the different positioning of the corflute. I confess also to trying bananas in one hive…some people say it works…


#14

Dan2,
Interesting comments about moving the corflute up to the top position. Can you please expand on this and also the banana comment.
Many thanks Dan2.


#15

Yes…not all the chalkbrood mummies could be removed from the hive by the bees because they were becoming wedged in the screen mesh in the bottom board.
Most were falling or being pushed by the bees through the mesh and onto the corflute and I was removing those from the corflute after sliding it out, however it was a concern that there were still a reasonable number of infective mummies wedged in the mesh within the hive - releasing spores.
I have found -so far- that by putting the corflute into the upper slot, the bees are seemingly removing the mummies from the hive completely, and thus are removing the potential for those dead mummies to continue releasing spores in the hive. There appear to be none becoming wedged because the corflute stops them getting trapped in the mesh.
I can’t really say why a sliced banana in the hive is thought by some to help. There may be no scientific evidence based research into it. Some seem to think that the odour of the bananas encourages the bees to be extra clean and get stuck into removing mummies. There are theories that the bananas smell like some kind of bee pheromone. The internet has a reasonable amount of discussion on it. As to chalkbrood, colonies can recover from it and I fully expect mine will. It was fortunately not something that my dad and I had to deal with in the 1970’s with our hives as it wasn’t in Tasmania until I think around 2000. Chalkbrood apparently occurs in spring -in part -because some of the brood gets chilled on cold nights. It also occurs in summer and autumn during dry conditions - which surprised me because it is a fungus, but it seems this may be to do with low nectar and pollen supply. Mine started here when conditions became really dry for weeks on end. I’m giving my bees some sugar syrup. That may help. There is not much in flower here at the moment. So to recap what I have done so far. 1. reduced the number of boxes on the hive. 2. removed mummies caught in the screen, 3. bananas in hive 4. fed sugar syrup 5. Added some extra insulation to the top of the hive.


#16

The shop where we buy our beekeeping supplies advised to lay a tiny smear of anti fungal cream at the entrance of the hive as the bees would walk across it and treat themselves every time they passed the entrance. We also changed the Flowhive lid for another one with ventilation holes.


#17

Not convinced with this advice. The same bees walk through the honey stores that you plan to eat from.


#18

There was a very interesting program on the ABC where they were looking at bee pheromones & the affects of various scents on bees & hive. One of those tested was bananas. I can’t remember which Unioversity it was but I think it was Melbourne Uni


#19

Thanks Kirsten,
Yes…I think I found it…Monash Uni in Melbourne. The compound in Bananas - which gives them the banana smell - is isoamyl acetate which is also a bee alarm pheromone. Quite interesting. The info about rose and lavender scent is interesting too. I think I’ll go and put a couple more bananas in the hive…suited up of course.