New hive, new nuc, ...problem debris?

Hello everyone!

I’m brand new to beekeeping. I have a new flow hive 2 and installed my first nuc 48 hours ago. Today I inspected the tray and found a variety of debris types.

Can anyone identify these larger dark pieces? What about the fuzzy white bits? Is this a fungus that I should be concerned about?

Thanks much!

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Hi Scott, welcome to the Flow forum!

What you have there is chalkbrood, which usually happens as a result of chilled brood, but there are other considerations. It is common across the world, and often happens when an inspection has been performed in cold or rainy weather, but not always. Sometimes the queen carries the chalkbrood spores, and then it can only be dealt with by requeening.

In your case, I would keep the entrance small, keep the hive to one brood box, and close the rear ventilation. The bees need to keep the hive warm, and if you open it up, they cannot fan efficiently to move moist air out, plus heat the hive. Sort of like leaving the windows open, with your heating on during a cold day. Or leaving the windows open on a hot day, while running the air-conditioning. Doesn’t work very well!

This may not be your fault. It could well be mishandling by the nucleus provider before you collected, depending on timing of your collection and the interval before you took the photos, although it is hard to be exact in this kind of situation. I would let them know that 2 days after installation, you are seeing this. If they are honorable and the hive doesn’t recover, they should offer you a replacement or refund.

If you keep the hive warm and strong, don’t inspect too often (no more than once per week) and make sure that they are well-fed, they are more likely than not to recover from this.

looks like chalkbrood mummies to me. Its a fungus that larvae injest and it does this to them. When the mummies turn black the spores are more likely to spread. I’ll leave it to the experts to tell you what to do about it but it will need action.

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Thank you Dawn and John. I’ve left a detailed message for the nuc provider, so hoping he’ll get me back on track for a healthy and strong hive.

Much appreciated!

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By the way, good job on the nicely labeled photos. It is always easier to help when we know what you are worried about! :wink:


The nuc breeder is going to come by next Wednesday to inspect and help troubleshoot. In the meantime, I’m removing the mummy larvae from the yellow bottom tray each day to keep an eye on the rate of accumulation.

Since this is a flow hive, there is the metal grate between the brood box and the yellow tray. Any suggestions on if I should be trying to clean the metal grate too? I assume there is more accumulation of mummies inside and on top of the grate, but lifting the brood box to clean the grate will also disturb the hive. I don’t see any accumulation of mummies at or beneath the front entrance. Any thoughts on what is better? Lift and clean, or leave undisturbed?


Leave it alone. If the bees don’t like the debris, they will throw it out of the entrance. If you take the whole hive apart, you will not be doing them any favors - they hate cold air and bright light!

Good suggestion. That’s what I was wondering.

Thanks Dawn!

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Here’s an update to the chalkbrood that was established in the nuc I purchased last weekend…

I did a full hive inspection yesterday (one week after installing the nuc) and documented everything with photos to study closer on my computer. Chalkbrood mummies have continued to accumulate in the tray at about the same rate every day, and several of the frames had a patchy brood pattern likely caused by the chalkbrood. I shared these photos with the nuc supplier so that he could see them prior to coming down to inspect the hive. Once he saw the photos he decided the best approach will be to entirely replace the hive with a new nuc.

Today I am transferring the bees back into the nuc box and will leave them on the hive stand in the same hive location until Wednesday when the new nuc will be installed. I then will have the three days to move my flow hive inside and clean it thoroughly with lysol to be sterilized of chalkbrood spores (per nuc supplier recommendation) and let it air out before the new colony is introduced into the flow hive.

I’ve attached the photos (forum limit of 5 here and the rest in the next post) of the inspection if you’re interested in seeing the chalkbrood symptoms in the colony that will now be replaced.

Photos 6-10

Photos 11-12

Great job on the photos, the annotations and spotting the queen! :blush: I agree with you, the brood pattern is very patchy. A red spot indicates a queen from this year, but as you know, it has been cold and wet. It is possible that she wasn’t well-mated, or that the patchiness is from the frames of brood getting chilled when creating the nuc, and then falling victim to chalkbrood. These things happen in colder weather.

I am glad that Forrest is doing the right thing. I seem to remember posts from him on the SDBS website in the past, so reputation is going to matter! SDBS has around 1,000 members, if I recall correctly.

I don’t think that is a queen cell - it is too misshapen and lumpy. Also it is quite far out from the center of the hive on frame 7. Supercedure queen cells are usually more central on the frame and within the brood nest. That looks like black plastic foundation, so it is probably just the bees having a bit of a “snit fit” and building their own comb away from the plastic. I have seen that many times. Just tidy it up (scrape it off with a hive tool) and use it later to smear on your Flow frames to make them smell of the hive. :wink:

Hi Dawn,

Sounds good and thanks for the feedback. Yes, under normal circumstances I’d scrape that extra wax and use it to smear the frames in the super. However, I don’t want to contaminate the newly sterilized hive boxes and equipment with chalkbrood spores, so I think it’s best to dispose of all wax from this hive.

Yes, Forrest seems like a really good guy and a very responsible nuc supplier. I’m glad I’m working with him to deal with this issue.


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I completely understand, but chalkbrood is not that infectious. As @JeffH will attest, it usually takes chilled brood (from inspecting in cold or wet weather) to give it a start. Of course if you have a queen that is carrying it, that can be a different matter.

You could freeze the wax for future rendering, if you wanted. I keep baggies of wax in my freezer, then render them when I have enough to make it worth firing up my crock pot (the Search tool will show you my method). The heat of rendering should inactivate the spores very nicely. :wink:

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I also picked up a nuc from Forrest. I just checked my tray and found 1 mummy-looking carcass. I have had the entrance reducer on, but just switched the vent closed after reading this. I plan on doing my first full inspection tomorrow at the warmest part of the day :crossed_fingers:

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Good luck! Hope you’ll have a clean hive with no real problems. Forrest has been great in helping remedy the situation. With all the record-setting rain we’ve had in Northern California where he breeds and keeps the stock for his nucs, it’s not a surprise that some of them struggled with the cold and moisture. Fortunately, Forrest is very reputable and responsible, so it’s nothing wrong that he’s done. Just luck of the draw coming out of a wet winter.

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As a former MD and lab researcher working with cell cultures, I think that you will be OK.

Thanks! Inspection went well. I found one more pale mummy on the landing board prior to inspecting, but no obvious signs of chalkbrood within the frames.
Definitely happy with the overall health of the hive. Will be going back to Forrest for a new queen when the time comes.


Awesome! Glad to hear your hive is in good shape!


Hope you’re able to get going again soon.