Thick brown substance in bottom tray

Hi all, on cleaning out my bottom flow trays today (In Melbourne ) I found a dark brown substance with a wax type consistency to it when I squeezed it together, any ideas what this could be ? Maybe old wax cappings or even old wax foundation the bee’s have cleaned out ?? Please see photos, any suggestions would be appreciated

Over what time frame are we talking? It looks like a buildup of brood cappings with pollen, wax flakes, cockroach droppings, even a cockroach, but no evidence of wax moth activity. It must be too cold for wax moth activity. I wonder if those large bits are from mice chewing on the combs.

A good idea would be to choose a warm calm day to do a brood inspection.

Thanks Jeff, this has been over the last 6 weeks or so as we did an inspection in mid April & since cleared the trays, unfortunately now we’re in the middle of winter so an inspection as not really appropriate. Interesting about the mouse theory but I didn’t see any signs of mouse droppings in the tray, did you ?

No, I didn’t see any mouse droppings. Is your Flow super on? Regardless as to whether it’s on or not, if no bees are in the Flow super, you could remove it & the QE merely to look down on the brood frames to get an idea of how many frames the bees are occupying.

If there’s not many frames being occupied by bees, that would leave the remaining frames free for cockroaches & possibly mice to chew on, which could account for all the thick brown substance. I find myself that a weak colony seem to tolerate cockroaches. I’m not sure how long they would tolerate a mouse in the hive.

PS, after another close look, I think I can see a grub near the bottom of the top photo. If hive beetles are in the area, I’m quick to suggest that so much debris, like in your photos could be a result of hive beetle activity.

Yes it is on, we currently have 2 brood boxes then the QE with the flow super on top. They have honey stores in the 2nd brood box inc brood & partial stores in the flow super, they aren’t in large numbers up there but I can see activity. As you said maybe wait for a fine day to remove the flow super & do a quick inspection, probably not worth removing it totally now as spring will be here before you know it :roll_eyes:

Are hive beetles in your area? If so, they could be a reason for the brown substance.

Yes we do get hive Beatles here but currently I havn’t seen any in the hives. Possibly the current cold conditions ?

Hive beetles certainly slow down during cold weather, however the internal temp of a hive provides ample warmth for them to breed in. They will take advantage of unprotected brood or pollen to lay eggs in. Once the workers realize what’s happening, they quickly try to overwhelm the situation, which leads to a lot of brown debris on the bottom board.

Interesting, thanks Jeff. It’ll be interesting also to see what I find on our first post winter inspection

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