Tray appearance during hive inspection

I just inspected my honey super and brood box. Everything appears normal, although I have yet to spot the queen. I pulled out the plastic tray and noticed about 1/8 cup of liquid at the entrance end of the tray and 2-3 very small beetles. Not sure if they are hive beetles or if I should be concerned?
Also, should I clean the tray? Might sound like a dumb question, but I’m very new to this. And if so, how often? See photo…


The water is likely to be rain water. They could be hive beetles that you spotted. I would definitely clean the tray, then maintain a routine of checking & cleaning it once every 2 weeks.


The yellow tray will receive all sorts of detritus falling from the hive…wax, dead bee bits, and hive beetles.

I agree the liquid is most likely rain water. Its been raining a lot in my area (South East coast Australia) and very humid. The oil I have used in the past is olive oil (left over from the kitchen) and it tends to get mouldy as well. I will see if mineral oil stops the mould growth on the tray.
However…clean the tray every two weeks, replace the oil AND keep a record of the number of hive beetles. This counts as an inspection…and knowing the hive beetle catch rate can usually indicate the hive beetle density in the hive. A strong colony and only a few beetles in the tray is nothing to be worried about IMO. regards.

I agree Ian & welcome to the forum. I use all solid floors on my hives, plus I don’t have landing pads on the bottom boards. My poor bees have to struggle to get back in the hive without a landing pad. I think that the landing pad contributes to water in the tray. That’s my gut feeling.

They do have a landing pad, a vertical one.

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Thanks so much. That’s all helpful as I get through this learning curve. We have had lots of rain, and are expected to get more in the next two days.

[quote=“JeffH, post:4, topic:33033”]
landing pad contributes to water

Flow ones are sloped down away from the entrances, but standard ones definitely allow water to seep in during rain.

Hi Eva, the original Flow entrances sloped down, however the Flow 2 entrance sticks out more & is quite large. Water gets in my hives also if the wind blows the right way. I just have to keep my hives tilted the right way to stop it pooling on the floor.

We have had a huge amount of rain. So much so that I had trouble getting my 4x4 up to the hives for the first time ever, in well over 20 years.

The cows have been grazing near my hives lately. I found my best performing hive knocked over yesterday morning, which left a lot of the frames exposed to the rain. I found that early in the morning as I went to get a nuc for a customer. I went back later with a slatted rack to add, which I’m in the process of fitting to all of my hives, while I rectify the hive. Everything went well, I replaced 2 brood frames, the queen was ok. I shook the rainwater, mixed with honey out of the frames onto the grass in the process, which triggered a huge feeding frenzy, on account that the rain only stopped the previous night. I had 2 more slatted racks to put under hives, but I left them for another day.

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I only put my tray in when treating for varroa. Never have mold in it, anymore.

Another good reason to use slatted racks, eh?


Hi Eva, I’m not sure what you mean in relation to the slatted rack. I’ll rectify what I said about the slatted rack, because I only fitted it because I’m in the process of fitting all my hives with one. So far I’ve only fitted 8 of the 51 that I made.

Sorry Jeff, I meant that having a slatted rack on hives would help elevate brood and bees away from a soggy bottom area if rain can seep in.

I agree Eva. In this case the cow knocked it to finish upside down, but on an angle. The boxes separated, exposing the bottom of the frames in both supers to the weather. I was fortunate that it must have happened recently, otherwise hive beetles would have done some some damage.

On the day I tossed up whether to get a nuc from a different site for my customer. I decided on this site, on account that cows have been grazing among the hives recently.

I fitted 4 slatted racks yesterday, which takes a bit of time because I’m fussy about the frames I put back into the brood boxes. By the time I finished, there was another huge feeding frenzy, which changed my mind about going back to do more after lunch. I was ok with 3. So, this morning I’ll go for 3 before lunch, then 3 more after lunch.

I can really see the advantage of the slatted racks, because I’m placing brood frames that normally are just inside the entrance, to above a 4" panel of wood.

Re the slatted racks. Are the bees still keeping the base boards clean when implementing the slatted racks? Or do the slatted racks feel like a false floor to them and nothing underneath matters anymore?
Interested to see how that goes

Hi Tim, I’m yet to find that out. I fitted my first ones about 10 days ago. I wont know until I start splitting late in July.

When I start splitting, I’m expecting to not find the large gaps after winter at the end of the frames closest to the entrance.

Coming out of winter my bases are always at their dirtiest point for the year, so this will be a good test for you to see how they go. Please keep us updated.

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I have been using slatted racks for about 7 years now. I have solid bottoms in 2 of my hives. Yes, they keep them clean, even with a slatted rack in place.



The bees use the slats to congregate and help with cooling, and there’s always lots of traffic across the floor underneath. As Dawn said they do keep the floor clean. A few times my bees have built additional comb ‘baffles’ across the slats.