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One of my hives seems to have chalk brood- anything to be done?


One of my hives has chalkbrood. I see the little ‘mummies’ on the coreflute bottom (which I have in the bottom slot). I have been removing it and cleaning them off- but more appear over a few days. The colony seems very active and strong in numbers- and has built out several full combs of honey over the last 5 weeks in their flow hybrid super. However they have been slow to start working the three central flow frames.

This colony came from an overwintered Nuc- I noticed some of the frames looked to be quite old when I installed it early in spring. I am planning to transfer the colony to a horizontal hive in a few weeks and plan to rotate out all of the old frames over summer/autumn. I might hot wax dip the frames I take out to kill off any spores.

Since I saw the mummies I have not done an inspection of the brood chamber yet: I plan to do it shortly. What should I be looking for- and is there anything to be done? I have three other hives in the same apiary- I am slightly concerned about cross contamination. I will be sterilizing my hive tool after my inspection…

I had thought this was more of an early spring issue- and exacerbated by humid and cool conditions. The season has been all over the place with unseasonable rains and a few cool nights- but still it’s a Mediterranean type climate in summer here in Adelaide- alongside the hive their is an olive tree covered in fruit just now… Is it likely that this will clear up over summer?


Some chalkbrood is common in most hives. You can minimize it by inspecting frames as quickly as possible and returning them to the hive immediately, as it mostly results from chilled brood turning into chalkbrood. When I have it, if it is more than 10% of the frame, I will either cut out that piece of frame, or even consider removing it completely. It is infectious, and while the bees can mostly control it, if there is a lot, you want to help them. If it keeps returning, you may need to replace the queen, as she can be the source of the infection too.


Thanks @Dawn_SD

just for the short term I tried the banana trick- but with a twist- on the coreflute. I guess it can’t really hurt? Be interesting to see how the bees react. A few seem to like to wander around on the coreflute when it’s in the lower slot. I heard bees get angered by the smell of banana?

This being South Australia- there is a chance we will be in for some very hot weather soon. Hopefully it will clear up by itself. We’ll see what the banana does.


It will go away on it’s own. It’s chilled brood that is the cause. Warmer weather will clear it up. If it’s an ongoing problem requeening will likely help.


I had a severe chalkbrood issue a little while back and tried everything under the sun to get rid of it but to no avail. In the end I re-queened and cycled out the brood frames. The problem went away after a few months and has not been back however that hive is now considered tainted and I won’t breed from it. Considering the wet weather you have been getting in S.A. I am not surprised that this fungus has popped up and I can assure you that you are not alone. Re-queen when you can.


Interesting update on the banana - I went to check today and the banana had vanished… Then I remembered hearing a possum screaming late last night… I assumed it was having a tustle with a cat. But I do believe that in fact it stole the banana- but that the bees didn’t give it up easily… I have possums in my yard that routinely eat the remains of oranges I juice and then compost. Poor fellow must have though the banana was a gift… I am surprised the possum was able to reach in and get it from the small gap in the coreflute.

before it was stolen it did seem to have caused some hygienic behavior as there were more chalkbrood mummies on the coreflute after one day than previously. Could just be a coincidence…


Hi Jack, do what @Dawn_SD said & do your brood inspection quickly. Do it while the weather is hot & dry. I would be more inclined to weed out the frames with the most chalk brood rather than frames that are old. Also remove any frames with large areas of drone comb. Replace them with fresh foundation. Don’t checkerboard them. Keep the remaining frames of brood together, flanked on both sides by the frames with fresh foundation. That’s what I would do, cheers


Hi Rodderick, I was wondering, by cycling out the frames, I assume you bring them from brood box to super then out. If there is honey in that frame you want to ke, is there any chance of cross contamination with other frames from other hives if you extract frames in extractor.
Cheers Tim


Hi Tim, there is a very very slight chance. I would extract those frames last and then wash the extract with warm sudsy water with a touch of bleach added, rinse thoroughly and then leave in the sun to dry. That should help.
I have not seen chalkbrood in any of other hives, so am feeling confident, however this fungus has a very long life in dormancy so nothing is guaranteed.


Pretty new to beekeeping. Got rid of chalkbrood by replacing bottom board every day with a clean one. Soaked soiled board in white king and hosed it. Left it to dry in sun and used it next day. Did this for about a week and a half and the bees are much more hygienic. Chalkbrood gone. Removed 3 frames we initially bought to start the hive off and replaced with 4 frames from an existing hive. Gave them a sugarbag everyday for a fortnight until the hive began to build up in numbers. All good.


Hi @felmo - was puzzled for a second & thinking this was maybe an Aussie product we don’t have here, then I realized maybe your “whitening” got autocorrected :smile::crown:?


Actually your first thought was right: it’s a brand of bleach- white king

White :crown:


@Michael_Bush How long would you say that they should clear this up? I have been seeing sins of this for around 3-4 weeks. We did have a cold spell that caused this, but the weather has been warm since.


How do the frames look on inspection?

If I have more than 10% chalkbrood on a frame, I want to do something active. That could be cut out the affected area or throw out infected frames, or replace the queen, depending on the brood pattern and general hive strength.

If you have a strong hive, it usually clears up in a couple of weeks in summer.


Removing chalkbrood mummies is a very difficult task for the bees. The cause was often not enough bees so there is often not enough bees to remove them quickly. It sets them back a lot.


It is not a strong hive. Small colony. Only about 60% drawn comb on a 10 frame deep. A brief inspection showed mummies very spotty on all frames. I wiped the bottom board of all dust and mummies yesterday. To help with numbers I combined another small queenless colony and they seemed to really be helping with housecleaning, but observations show it doesn’t seem to be enough to take care of it.


You may need to shrink down to a 5-frame nucleus, if they don’t recover within a week or two. :disappointed_relieved:


Hmmm. How does that help? Do you mean new empty frames in the nuc and let them start over?


Strong hives deal with diseases much better than weak ones. If you shrink an 8 or 10-frame hive down into a 5-frame nucleus, it becomes a much stronger hive. Especially if it was weak or underpopulated before.

If you have chalk brood, it is a sign of an underlying issue. That may be a failing queen, cold damp weather, or a low population. There are other reasons too, of course. If there are a lot of chalk brood mummies for the nurse bees to remove, it is hard for them to do their other duties, including guarding the hive from wax moths and other pests. So shrinking the hive makes their job easier - less of a compound to patrol, keep clean and nurture. :wink: