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Maggots and SHB in the bottom tray

Some questions. After losing my Queen many weeks back, we now have a new one. Yea! And she has been busy. Saturday four days ago we did a hive inspection. Tons of capped brood, larvae, and eggs. My bee mentor was very impressed with the overall look of individual frames. We also added HopGuard strips as a part of my regular hive mite maintenance. Everything was as it should be. Zero pests.

About four days after the inspection I went out just to take a look at the bottom inspection tray. It was crawling with (what I assume are) SHB worms! And I saw and killed outright at least a half dozen mature beetles. There had been no SHB, maggots, moth web or anything to indicate an infestation of anything. Considering the number of bees in the hive I’d be surprised if anything like a SHB could take ahold in just a few days. In the mean time I even bought SHB oil traps to add next inspection, just as a preemptive measure.

Did these pests show up in the inspection drawer? Are the bees pushing them down? I always spray the tray with Pam olive oil, but now I made it into a moat of vegetable oil. Keeping and eye now on a daily basis.

Thoughts? CG

Hi Chris, as always, photos are handy. If the maggots are hive beetle maggots, they either developed in the crud in the tray, or they dropped down from the brood frames. I’m assuming that your tray is kept clean, so the only thing I can think of is that they dropped down from the brood frames.

Think of the 3 things the beetles lay eggs in: Unprotected brood, dead & or dying trapped bees & pollen.

Did any bees get trapped between combs during your inspection? Is there any large sections of drone brood? because drone brood can lead to problems with hive beetles on account that if drone brood is covered in recently emerged drones (that are not defenders), beetles will sneak past them to lay eggs in the existing drone brood, unchallenged. They are cunning because they chew through the comb to lay their eggs at the base of the cells. Which means the beetle larvae will start to consume brood from the base of the cell first, beneath the cap.


Thanks for the response. I am attaching a recent pic of said maggots. There were a lot of them overnight. I don’t recall much in the way of drone brood. My mentor would have picked up on that too. And we never saw any worms or SHB. I really wonder if they are somehow developing on the tray. I plan on going out tonight, pulling the tray, and see if there is anything crawling on the bottom screen. No major bee death or rolled or trapped bees. Stay tuned!

Hi Chris, those are definitely hive beetle maggots. If everything is A1 in the brood box, they must have fed on the food in the tray to reach that size. I would keep the tray clean for a while to see what happens.

If everything is A1 in the brood box, with a good worker population & nowhere in the hive that’s unprotected for beetles to lay eggs in, don’t be concerned about finding a few beetles hiding in the hive. Because they can’t do any harm. I would keep the tray dry & clean.

Thanks Jeff. I did a three box inspection today. Looked high and low for SHB. Found one crawling on my Flow supers. None in the lower two brood boxes. None on the inspection tray. I places beetle traps nonetheless. They all seem happy and content! C

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Well done Chris, that’s a beautiful frame of sealed brood you’re holding. I think the beetles must have laid some eggs in the tray, therefore keeping the tray clean would be a good thing.


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