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Uncapped pupae: problem or normal?


Yesterday I did a partial inspection as well as some hive manipulations. They appeared to have lots of capped brood with a good amount in a nice tight pattern, which was not the case on the previous inspection. However, I noticed on one frame (could’ve been more as I did not look at each) there were a few cells, mostly pupae, that were uncapped by the bees. There was one larva in the same area I noticed standing upright; I tested it for EFB (negative). I also mangled some of the cells trying to get that larva out and a neighboring pupa came out, I did not see any varroa on it, or anywhere else. To my knowledge this could be cause by disease, varroa, or possibly cannibalization for a protein source. I saw very little pollen (virtually none) but again did not inspect each frame. What are your thoughts? Is this something that just happens sometimes?
Picture: a small patch of uncapped brood, cells I mangled, and the evicted pupa on the bottom of frame.


Nice photo. Do you have VSH bees? If so, that is a possible sign of heavy Varroa infestation. I would do a Varroa count (UMN Sugar Roll - google it) as soon as possible. Consider treating if you have more than 5 per 100 bees.

I did a treatment recently, and thousands of mites dropped in the 24 hour interval afterwards. This is a tiny area of the coreflute slider, and it is covered with varroa.


Thanks for your quick reply @Dawn_SD! The bees are supposed to be Purdue Leg-Chewer (or whatever they are officially called!) so it makes sense that they would also have the VSH trait though I can’t say for sure. I suppose I should’ve pulled out those particular pupa and checked them for mites? Would the bees cannabalize them if they were healthy/uninfested but protein was in short supply? The “larva” I saw standing could’ve been a chewed pupa. I will try to do a sugar roll soon and will look up the UMN info!


That is not a very accurate method. The sugar roll is better. :wink:

Possibly, but usually they stop developing bees earlier than that if they are worried about food. For example, they will eat eggs and uncapped (never capped) larvae. Decapping pupae which have already been fed etc is a big energy loss for the hive, so they usually only do that if there is an infestation problem. Of course, there are always exceptions in nature. :blush:


It would be intersting to know if those in the process of being uncapped had varroa. But I will do a sugar roll for overall hive assessment :slightly_smiling_face:

I had read something to that effect (regarding cannibalization) on another forum but thought that someone had countered it; I don’t think there was a clear consensus. There is so much even those that know the most don’t know!

It is intersting that they were in close vicinity to each other.