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Queen less hive and varroa?

Noticed this week that my once bustling hive had very few bees up in the Flow super. I am in Northern California and got the below snap shots of some of the brood frames. Very sparse brood pattern, no eggs that I could see with a couple of supersedure sells. Noticed lots of dead brood and I think I see some varroa in with the dead larvae. One of the supersedure cells has a dead queen larvae as well.

Will treating with formic pro now essentially doom the hive? Is re-queening even a possibility? If this hive is likely already lost, I can always plan to do a split with my other hive next year. Also, anyone know what the larvae crawling is? Appreciate any advise!

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It’s the larvae of a wax moth.


The larvae in the bottom pic is wax moth as Steve says. Doing nothing the colony is doomed if the number of bees is indicative of the hive. So treating what is left for varroa I will leave to those who know the subject better than I do but think they will say any varroa in hive is only going to make a bad situation worse. If the hive is so infected they can’t produce a queen then there is nothing to gain by buying one.
Having three hives when did you last test them all for varroa? When was your last hive inspection?

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I’m already starting to learn whatever I can about Varroa as judging by the state of things it’s not a matter of if it will get here, but when.

And with so many ‘rogue’ beekeepers on the loose at the moment, it won’t be hard for it to gain a foothold making eradication impossible.

I totally agree with you about Varroa getting into Australia and sadly I suspect it will be sooner rather than later. With so many more unregistered bee keepers in recent years that know nothing about wax moth and SHB that is already a big issue over most of Australia when I say Varroa to them I just get a blank look, especially with folks who have one or two hives in their back yard… I’m reading all I can like you.

Most beekeepers won’t know what’s hit them, and will probably just walk away once they see what’s involved in managing it.

We will also lose our status of having the cleanest beekeeping industry on earth.

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Looking at those frames I’m concerned about AFB. It would be good to do some more detective work to be sure of the reason for this patchy brood pattern and perforated caps. Varroa is such a high profile pest but it isn’t the only way colonies get taken down.

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jplethora great post showing the classic October breakdown…right down to the visible varroa mites on the white larvae.
Those multiple viruses from the varroa that infect the hive raise havoc with queen supercedure…my experience says you have lost this hive.

This graph illustrates what happens only for Randy Oliver (Scientific Beekeeping - California beekeeper) and as indicated, his crash happened a little later than yours.

Understanding this graph is important to get the varroa treatment coordinated with the brood cycles in your area. It took me a few seasons to figure this out…now I don’t think I have a mite problem and I think it should remain that way. Apivar strips immediately inserted right after the last honey pull (last week of August…can’t wait any later in my area) and then OA shop towels/cellulose sponge cloths on the hive throughout the summer is my recommendation for anyone who has a continuous summer brood cycle similar to mine…otherwise I see what you see:

As a side note, successful commercial beekeepers in my area are saying they can keep varroa numbers suppressed for a few summer months simply by having new queens…a biological varroa control method but you still have to assume the mite numbers start exploding late season.

Randy is also working on efficacy of thymol varroa control products…

Thanks for posting your experience…it’s “reality” beekeeping!


Is this really because of brood breaks? What about just caging the queen for 2 weeks and doing a OA treatment after another week so that there aren’t any mites hiding under capped cells?

Too right. This is the kicker delivered to many newbeeks who were just beginning to think they were home free with strong colonies going into winter - myself included.

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There are no summer brood breaks in my area…continous flowering from middle of April to end of August on a good year. The explanation I’ve been given is the young queens seem to “out-lay” the effects of varroa in early part of the season.

Once the last honey is pulled, there are two reasons why I wouldn’t attempt to cage queens:

a) hives are raising the indispensible long-lived “winter bees” which will survive our long winters…don’t want to risk losing those critical brood cycles at that time of year…
b) honestly I’m intimidated in finding a queen in a populous hive in the fall…photo taken a week ago