Larvae in harvested honey

Today we robbed two frames of the flow hive, and in the honey from one of the frames there were four or five little larvae/grubs. I have attached a couple of photos with a 10 cent coin for reference. They are alive and wriggling around. Could we please get some help to identify what they are and if we need to be worried.

Hello Paul, what position was you queen excluder while you had the flow hive on the hive?

Small hive beetle…


I deleted SHB from my thinking because of its size comparing it to a 10 cent piece. I was thinking of a bee larvae which would be right considering the size.

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HI Peter, we have the queen excluder in place between the flow super and the brood box. The specimen in the picture was one of the larger grubs out of the 4 or 5 we discovered.

Ok, that eliminates it being bee larvae. It is to large to be small hive beetle as Dee has suggested in my opinion so through the process of elimination it could be a wax moth. When you do your next inspection of the hive keep an eye out for a white moth that is fast crawling over the comb as you lift a frame out, they seem to not like being in light so look on the bottom sides in the shade.
I have had them in low numbers sometimes and just squashed them but you can be sure there is a chemical treatment but I have never resorted to use anything.
Other than that I am out of ideas but maybe @Jeff H might know what it is. He is on the forum and has a lot of experience.


Hi Paul, can you get a few photos of it really close up? It should be easy enough then to tell if it is wax moth or SHB larvae. It looks more like the beetle because of the spines on the back of it, but I am straining my eyes. The wax moth larvae will have abdominal legs (false legs) as well as the standard six at the front.

HI dan2, thanks very much for your help. Here are some close up images. These are zoomed in as far as my phone will allow. I can definitely see that it has 6 pronounced legs that it uses to move around, I can’t see any other legs.


Hi Paul, I’d go with Dee’s SHB larvae diagnosis given that you can’t see false legs and also you can see pairs of spines running down the back. From what I can ascertain, SHB larvae are about 11mm when fully grown ( a five cent piece is about 10mm) , and the moth larvae can be more like 25mm when fully grown (I’ve seen them really tiny in their early stages). Also, SHB, like many insects, love the climate up there.

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SHB. A neighbour had 3 in his Honey last year too. I had one in honey come out at harvest once, only that one time of almost 100 harvests. In any case, I guess it somehow got into the extraction channel, as it came out early, and now I always clean out the channel with a damp chux wrapped around the flow key before harvest.
Overall, it’s probably not that uncommon to find in honey. Conventional beekeepers have to strain all their honey to get out the wax bits and would capture those.
Doesn’t seem to be a major problem. Neither the neighbour nor me ever found another one.
I don’t have a SHB problem at all otherwise. Rarely find one during inspection nowadays.
Just like the odd apple with a fruit fly from a healthy organic apple tree.

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ok thanks for all the replies everyone. Looks like the consensus is SHB larvae and may not be a huge problem. Thanks again for your help.

Hi Paul, it looks very much like SHB larvae. This is my closeup video of shb larvae.


PS, you’d need to physically check the flow frames as well as the brood. That larvae looks well developed. There could be more going on inside the hive than you bargain for.


Hi again Paul. Just an after thought. Finding the odd SHB larvae in flow honey is not the same as finding the odd grub in an organic apple.

Treat the presence of SHB larvae in flow honey with a degree of urgency.

I don’t have to strain SHB larvae out of my honey. None whatsoever. Each frame to be harvested is closely inspected before & during the extraction process.

Before any SHB grubs develop, the beetles decap the honey in places before walking it over the face of the combs. That turns the honey rancid along with the characteristic odor. That wet appearance of the honey over the face of the honeycomb, caused by the beetles themselves is easily spotted during an inspection.

That’s one reason why the flow frames should be inspected before harvest in areas where SHB are active.

I will bow to expertise, but I thought the larvae too big for SHB.

Well, I confess to inspecting most of my flow frames days before harvest, and I have never seen a single sign of SHB on them.
We all know SHB are after other things in the brood box and surrounds. There’s not much of their interest in a flow frame.

Actually, my neighbour treated it as a matter of urgency, and thought that this particular frame wasn’t held together enough with the wires. I suppose that could be an issue with the earlier run of flow frames.
He tightened the wire, as did I on some frames, and it never happened again.
Not sure if that was the issue, but as I said, I rarely even see any SHB any more. Hope I killed the crap out of them by now. The only hives that I find SHB in are the nucs I recently bought. The chase goes on.

How did you handle the SHB problem? Sounds like you have them on the run.

Hi Peter,
I too wonder how I got on top of SHB, seeing others down town battling hundreds in their hives.
I suppose they never had a chance to breed in our soil. When I started with hives on our land, I imported SHB in my nucs. Then I started with oil traps and put an apithor trap onto each coreflute, and I killed what I saw. Saw the chooks picking like mad under my first hive. They must have found something.
Just became aware of SHB again bringing in new nucs…
Hope my strategy makes short life of those too.
Apithor for a while and chooks. Hygienic queens do the rest.

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Hi Peter, that larvae looks identical to the one in my video.

I have a theory as to how the larvae finished up in the flow honey. I think that maybe some bees got squashed during a previous harvest. The house bees were unable to remove the bodies, therefore the beetles are able to lay eggs in those bodies. Hence the larvae. A strong colony will overwhelm a small outbreak such as this. With a weaker colony, it will be a different story.

The presence of scores or even hundreds of SHBs in a strong colony has nothing to do with hygienic queens.

The presence of beetles in a healthy beehive doesn’t necessarily mean that beetles have bread in that hive. They had a chance to breed up somewhere else. It could be a neighbors hive or a wild colony that succumb to the SHB.

Once the beetles emerge as such, they venture out looking for other hives to infest.

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That theory makes perfect sense. Except flow harvesting has never killed any of my bees. But - flow frames are clumsy to inspect, guess that could kill a few. Once you know your bees and flow frames, one wouldn’t need to inspect before each harvest.
Regarding hygienic queens, the bees herd the beetles into the traps. They just don’t leave SHB in peace enough to lay eggs.