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New package hive - dead larvae on ground in front of the hive

Installed my bee package about 4 weeks ago now. Lots of activity at the entrance, bees have drawn out 4 frames and there are lots of new baby bees. Today i noticed about 10 - 20 dead larvae outside the entrance on the ground. There were about 6-10 hive beetle in the sugar feeder (which had dried out) so I took that out and thoroughly cleaned it. There were about the same number of HB in the bottom tray.

  1. I’ve installed a HB trap - but how many HB in a new hive could cause a problem for a new colony?
  2. Is it normal to have some dead bees / larvae at the entrance and is 10 - 20 dead larvae something to be concerned about?
  3. Also - this is a strange one - but when I pulled out the bottom tray there were about 6 live bees buzzing around in there. There is no gap in the mesh or around the tray whatsoever so is it possible some larvae has fallen out of a frame, through the mesh and into the tray and hatched ??

Thanks :slight_smile:

That is a “how long is a piece of string” kind of question, I am afraid. One SHB can be a problem, or 30 SHB may be no problem at all. The way to minimize the problem is to keep the hive strong (don’t expand their space too quickly) and use traps if you want to. Try not to squish bees when you are inspecting too - the beetle larvae enjoy munching bee protein. I squish any live SHB that I find during inspections, but the bees do a pretty job of controlling them most of the time.

Some dead bees are normal, yes, especially if there is a robbing situation. You should not be seeing dead larvae though. I would suspect chilled brood or chalkbrood (or both). Perhaps they got a bit cold during a recent inspection?

No. If larvae fell through, they would chill and die. They need to be kept at around 35-37°C to mature. Those bees must have found a gap somewhere.

:wink:

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Hi Matt, as @Dawn_SD said, one beetle is enough to do damage. You could have 99 beetles in a trap with one mated female outside of the trap. She’ll do the damage.

Dead larvae at the entrance is something to be concerned about & warrants urgent attention, based on past experience. I would do an inspection to check on the integrity of the brood frames. You may have squashed some bees between the combs which can lead to beetles laying eggs in them, as well as the brood in that vicinity. You’ll recognize the damage because the comb will be all jagged in the affected area, with slime & beetle larvae & or eggs. If so, you’ll need to clean up the affected area, while removing any beetle larvae.

I think it’s important to not squash any bees when returning frames. Also make sure the bees have sufficient space between brood combs when returning them. Not putting brood frames back the way they came out can possibly lead to brood touching each other, thus leading to beetles laying eggs in it.

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Thanks very much for your replies they were extremely helpful!

I did another hive inspection today to try and get to the bottom of what might be causing the issue with the dead larvae (and some bees) in front of the hive. And after your advice - pay attention to any HB activity or laying.

24 hours after installed the HB trap there were about 20 caught and also about 10 in the bottom removable coreflute tray.

I couldnt find any obvious evidence of HB larvae in the cells (then again i’ve been keeping bees all of 4 weeks).

What was evident was the lack of any capped brood. There was some honey and very little pollen - but no capped brood. I couldnt seem to find the queen - but i was more interested in seeing what was going on in the frames so could have missed her easily. Here are some pictures (apologies for the quality - these are screen captures of the video i took)

I’m not sure what i’m looking at here. Lots of empty cells. I think there are eggs at the bottom but im not sure ???

Are these eggs (see red arrows)?

I’m in Sydney and the weather is warm now - i have no idea if or when there is a honey flow here.

Should there be at least one frame of capped brood ??? Is this normal?

Could i have a queenless hive (although i couldnt see many drone cells) ?

I am afraid that your frame photos are too out of focus to be sure of anything. The camera seems to have focused on the ground behind the frames. I think I see some capped brood near the bottom of the second photo, but it is too fuzzy to see uncapped larvae. I wouldn’t have a prayer of seeing eggs with that level of focus. :thinking:

The photo of the dead larvae is in very nice focus, and several of them look just like chalkbrood to me. That most often happens if you have inspected on a cold, wet or windy day and the brood gets chilled while you are inspecting. The fungus that causes chalkbrood can then infect the chilled brood, eventually killing it. The bees always remove dead larvae - they are very clean and tidy creatures. :wink:

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I see the top photo differently to Dawn. I can only see dead larvae, correction: pupae which looks how it looks after HB damage it before the bees clean it out. It looks to me like the bees have done a good job of overwhelming the HB damage. I can see lots of what looks like sealed brood. I can also see where a lot of brood has emerged, leaving some brood yet to emerge in small patches.

Edit: You’ll also notice the dark patch of cocoons left behind after the bees emerged. You must have a good colony & queen. She got laying straight away, as soon as the bees started building comb.

You will need to look online of images of sealed brood vs honey, eggs, open brood etc., so that you will know what you’re looking at. You need to look right up close for eggs, like with sunlight shining on them. I use a good led torch to see eggs when no sunlight is available.

cheers

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Me too, and it is superb

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Hi Dawn, Dee inspired me to buy one for that use. For a while I didn’t use it because I didn’t want to get propolis on it. Now it doesn’t matter, I’m using it for the purpose it was purchased for. It’s paying for itself in cane toads as well.

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Thanks for the replies and apologies for the photos. I should have waited until i had better ones. It looks like the weather tomorrow will be a good day for a proper hive inspection so I will post some high res photos then.

I did a quick inspection today and found the following:

  1. The bees were continuing to draw out more frames. The were onto frame 5 or 6 (i think) of the 10 frames.
  2. There were about 20 dead HB in the bottom tray and about the same in the HB trap in the hive
  3. There was very little to no capped brood
  4. Most of the frames were uncapped cells with honey around the outside with one frame (in the center of the hive) being new comb and about 70% honey
  5. I could not find any larvae and hard as I looked I could find no eggs
  6. The few capped brood cells I could see were workers not drones
  7. There were no queen cells

I suspect I have either a queenless hive or a non laying queen?

If I cant find the queen tomorrow should I be looking to introduce a new queen asap?

Is there any way you could buy a frame of eggs and young brood from a club member or nearby beekeeper? That way the bees can make their own queen if they don’t have one.

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Hi Matt, my mentor & I could see that everything looked fine in those photos. We could see lots of empty calls that bees had recently emerged from. Evidence was the cocoons left behind. We could see some larvae, but wasn’t able to make out any eggs or very young larvae.

I look forward to those high res photos.

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Thanks for the input!

So today i decided i’d do a thorough inspection determined find that queen - or at least get some high res images so I can get some experienced input into what im actually looking at.

It was a grey day here in Sydney. I’d read about avoiding inspections on grey days if possible because the bees get grumpy. It wasnt windy and temps in the mid 20’s so i thought i’d give it a go. Worst i’d do is learn something (probably not the worst).

Well the bees were not happy at all. What was striking was how distinctly different the gaurd bees looked and behaved from the workers. In other inspections i couldnt tell the difference - they were all calm, wings folded back. In this case the hive sounded very different (frantic buzzing) and while the workers had their wings tucked along their abdomen as usual the gaurd bees were somewhat jittery - with wings out at 45 degrees and standing noticably higher than the rest of the bees. A few of them buzzed around my head and were very annoyed. It wasnt pleasant - i closed up the hive and didnt remove any frames.

I was at the bee supply shop the other day and the older lady serving me was somewhat disgusted that i was going into the hive so much. She told me to set it up and leave it. It left me a little deflated but I thought - if my hive is a complete success would I know why? OR - If my hive is a complete failure would I know why? What are the bees supposed to sound like when they’re calm vs when they’re cross? How hard is it to find eggs? What do larvae look like? etc. Ok i could read all about these things - and have - and have watched a 100+ hours of youtube video in my quest to learn more … but i thought - stuff the old bag - im going to inspect my hive and learn.

So i learned something today and to me if im learning something its a good day.

Tomorrow i’ll try again.

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Thanks Dawn thats a good idea. I do know someone with 5 hives who might be happy to help me out. I may go down that track!

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She perhaps should have been more diplomatic, but she does have a point. Every time we inspect a hive, these thing happen:

  1. We disrupt the normal work that the bees are doing
  2. We chill the brood area, which bees have to work hard to keep at ~35°C
  3. We panic the bees and many of them will swallow a whole load of honey
  4. We risk squishing or “rolling” bees, damaging or killing them. The queen is particularly at risk
  5. We put the guard bees on high alert, probably for about 3 days afterwards, increasing the grumpiness of the hive to the surroundings and passers-by

General advice is that when you inspect, you set the hive back by 2 or 3 days. If you inspect twice a week, the hive may never make much progress, and could even weaken and demise. Unless you have a really good reason, I would suggest that you don’t inspect more often than once per week. New beekeepers are often very excited and curious about their hives, and that is a good thing. However, it is also good to learn to work in the bees’ best interests too, and not make their lives unbearably difficult. Just a thought. :wink:

I am not criticizing you. I don’t even know how often you have been inspecting, and it doesn’t really matter at this point. I just wanted to share with you the common wisdom among beekeepers about inspections. It might help you to understand where the bee supply lady’s comment was coming from. :blush:

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Hi Matt, I like your attitude when you say “if I’m learning something it’s a good day”. If you have burning questions about your hive, you need to inspect in order to answer the questions. Learning lessons by mistakes made is also a part of learning.

In 32 years of beekeeping, anything that can possibly go wrong, has happened to me. Every time I learn something, as well as try to figure out how I can avoid it from happening again.

I tend to be a maverick beekeeper. In some cases, I don’t follow normal conventions. One example is: I don’t supply my bees with a landing board.

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I may have overstated the her being disgusted and me being deflated bit for dramatic effect. She wasnt entirely rude and i wasnt too flattened by it. I know im inspecting too often though - and possibily some of the issues i’m trying to resolve were caused by me but im ok with that for now (sorry bees) because I’m learning so much. Once i can confirm the hive is queenright i’ll limit my inspections to every few weeks. I think the hive is on top of the HB now and the traps are working.

Really valuable feedback - i’ve learned a lot just in this thread.

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Well done Matt. Another part of me being a maverick is that I don’t use any beetle traps of any form. I do squash any I see, if time permits. The trick is to keep the worker population up by reducing the drone comb in the brood to a minimum. I do this, however I still see lots of drones in my hives. Therefore there’s no shortage of drones in my area.

Also remember the few tips I gave about beetles earlier in this thread.

cheers

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Thanks Jeff. Yes your advice on that was very helpful. I try not to take all the frames out when I’m inspecting if I dont need to but have been paying close attention to not squashing bees and putting frames back in the same way they came out.

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Back again.
Im wondering if you can tell me what i’m seeing here? Is this drone or worker brood?

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Oh my! Lovely photos, thank you!!! You have tons of capped brood. Not much drone brood. I think you need to sit down, take a deep breath, pat yourself on the back and wait a week or two before inspecting again.

Those photos are superb! :wink:

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