Honeyflow.com | FAQ's | Community |

Scattered brood?


Again - total newbie “is this normal” question :smile:

I did my third hive inspection this week - it’s been three weeks since the last one.
Last time only a few frames were partly drawn and the centre frame was full of capped brood.
But it’s been lovely warm weather and the number of bees has dramatically increased in the last few weeks (there’s a morning hovering-gridlock at the entrance which is fun to watch) :slight_smile:

This is the same central frame three weeks later and there seems to still be brood, but it is much more scattered.

It could either be just what’s left of the hatching bees… but I’ve also been reading the ag-science book and I know that bee diseases can present as scattered brood. I’m still just learning and not knowledgable enough to know the difference… and figured I should just ask.

I did try smelling it… as i also heard that AFB/EFB have a nasty smell - and all I smelt was lovely beeswax, which bodes well :smile:
But then there also seemed to be liquid cells in amongst the brood, which is less happy-seeming.

What do you think? what signs should I look out for to be sure in future?

Another pic of the same frame:


Hi Taryn, you don’t appear to have any foul brood disease there, sometimes a new queen can lay like that, no cells appear to be sitting idle, with lots of pollen in some & fresh honey in others. Your bees look like they’re doing a great job. Take a look at some images on the internet of brood with foul brood disease, you’ll notice the caps are concaved. The caps on healthy brood are convexed, like all of yours appear to be. Whenever you check your brood, always glance over it to look for any concaved caps with little holes in them. Good luck with that Taryn, cheers:)


Mine looked exactly the same last week in my first ever hive. My bees came in a box from Hornsby a few months ago. In my most recent inspection I could see scattered capped brood and larvae in some of the uncapped cells

This pic was taken yesterday. The bees came from JeffH. I swapped this frame of brood out of my first ever hive when I hived the bees from Jeff. I wanted to give the new bees a head start with some ready to hatch brood.


Next time you look have a really good peek at those empty cells. What’s in them? There may be eggs you missed, nectar or pollen even. Also look for empty cells that are polished and shiny…these are the ones cleaned up for the queen to lay in. If you’re not good at spotting eggs (there’s a knack, sun over your shoulder and tilt the frame) get one of those pocket bright white lED torches, they make the eggs shine. That way you will be reassured that all is well. I agree with Jeff…no brood disease obvious.


Thanks everyone :smile:

Yeah - most of the cells had something in them - pollen or larvae and I guess the “liquid” was most likely honey. A few were empty. I just wasn’t sure about “multi-use zoning” :smile: because the pictures of “this is good brood pattern” all seem to have a pretty consistent central section of almost entirely capped brood (which is what I saw the first time).

So - good to know there are other kinds of “normal” :smile:

Thanks for the tip on the concave cells! that’s a good one for me to remember for spotting the difference (or being reassured).

I did spot eggs this time around - on another frame. I agree - sunlight-behind you is the trick.
I still haven’t managed to spot the queen… but I guess she must still be in there… :smile:


I got mine from the same place - so I guess our bees are cousins! Which means I’m not surprised if they behave similarly WRT how the queen lays… I guess she’s just eager to lay as soon as the cells become free, rather than waiting for a whole patch to be ready. Can’t argue with that :slight_smile:


I can’t see in the cells but when I see that pattern I search for the rest of the signs of European Foul Brood. There are several other reasons for spotty brood pattern but EFB had been on the uptick in these parts. During the “season” try and get into them weekly.

I didn’t notice any “smell” when my hive had EFB but my state apiarist was able to confirm it for me.


What is in the uncapped cells? Nectar? Eggs? Larvae? If they are preparing to swarm the usually backfill the brood as it emerges with nectar to limit the queens ability to lay. But since the empty cells are scattered all over it seems more likely there was a brood problem of some kind. Either an inbred queen (laying diploid drones) or EFB or some other reason for them to remove the brood.


It is possible they are about to emerge. Check in a couple of days the same frame and see if there is a difference. Also new Queens may not be in full stride yet - sorry was on my Tablet yesterday and it is a pain to edit


G’day Bob, I can see a couple of sunken cells on that frame, near the bottom, in the middle, also a bit higher up, to the right & also near the top of the brood in that exposed area. There’s a lot of chalk brood around, plus do checks on those cells for possible foul brood disease. Good luck with that Bob, cheers.


I see where you installed the package on October 27th. Have you ever witnessed a really good brood pattern since install?


i am so sad… we have just come back from a 10 day break, we checked the hive before we left and have returned to find no bees and masses of SHB larvae writhing in the abandoned comb. i have to start all over again with a new nuc but would like to ask how to clean the frames properly in readiness for the new hive. also what to do with the old comb that is infected what is the best way to dispose of it? i did not have a proper SHB trap installed which i am sure was the issue…


Sorry to hear about the hive. Show some pics of the comb. It may be salvageable. SHB are usually kept under wraps by a strong hive. Weekly brood nest inspections are paramount.


hi Susan it is Wilma here. Jeff says to, just try to minimise the amount of grubs that go into the soil. You can put all the infected comb into a boiler to boil down and render the wax, through straining it. The rest out of the boiler can be used in the garden for fertilising. Scrape the frames down and get ready to start again. You can either then boil the frames if they are wooden, or scorch them. Personally Jeff would scrape them down and scorch them. Scrape the box down clean and scorch It if you want. this will get rid of the smell and slime. To get rid of the scorch smell use a bit of lemongrass essential oil in the box. Here’s Jeff no trap small hive beetle strategy. Happy bee keeping.


thanks Wilma i had watched Jeffs vid previously. i have scraped them down and will wash them thoroughly. i will also use the lemongrass oil too. it is heartbreaking as they were doing so well and we had very hot humid and wet conditions while we were away. i hope my colony is happy somewhere nearby!


Hi Red no, no comb was salvageable it was crawling with larvae yuk… all the bees had gone and while it wasn’t slimy i couldn’t get all the larva out it was so extensive. yes i was doing weekly inspects but those 10 days made all the difference between having a hive and not…


Hi Susan, Jeff here, they love this hot humid weather. I had an issue with them myself, yesterday & today. It’s in my video I’m preparing at the moment. I’m going to put it on here. It’s mainly about putting bees into a warre hive. However, there’s a tip I got off the internet I want to show Kirsten.


Looking forward to seeing it Jeff.


I’ve frozen it for a week and then let a really strong hive clean it up but I have 40 hives so it was easy. I’m wondering if BT would take care of the worms like it does for wax moth?