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Underdeveloped baby bee ejected from hive

Hi everyone,

When we looked outside the window we noticed the bees removing what looks to be a dead, unhatched, underdeveloped baby bee from the hive. One of the worker bees was dragging her out and dropped her off the edge of the landing board. Below is a photo of the baby bee they removed.

Can anyone tell us why this happened?


Can you provide a photo of the top of the bee, in particular the thorax and abdomen?

Sure, does this photo help?

Had you done an inspection recently? How long prior to you noticing this issue?
Notice anything during that?
What do the brood patterns and general frame health indications look like?
Any chance it was windy when you did an inspection that resulted in chilled brood?
Any chance your recent rains caused issues with your hive?

@Dawn_SD @JeffH @Peter48 might have useful comments to add…

Hi @Y_Dowling, to my eye that doesn’t look like chalkbrood, but I think it’s right to keep it on the radar as Alan is suggesting. Sometimes a pupa just dies during development and is then removed, so it’s normal to see occasional deadies in an otherwise healthy colony. We may not always know the cause. Your answers to Alan’s questions will give us more to go on.

For reference, here’s a pic of chalkbrood:


Thanks @Dawn_SD. Aren’t chalkbrood and chilled brood two different things?

I’ve never experienced either. Mind you, weather I consider too cold (less than about 25degC and little to no wind, unless absolutely necessary) to do an inspection is often warmer than weather people on this forum routinely in other parts of the world do inspections in…

Eva here (again :wink:) - no they’re not the same, but chilled brood can lead to the fungus that causes chalkbrood to take hold. Hoping Y can give us more of a context with answers to your questions.

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Chilled brood is black I think. Chalkbrood looks like chalk.

I wouldn’t worry too much if this happened to me and it is a one off, and everything else inside looks fine. Of course have a closer look at brood to make sure there’s nothing abnormal there.

Considering the number of bees inside a hive, some will die too young and have to get ejected and what is observed might be simply good bee housekeeping.

Having said that I’m curious to know what experienced beekeepers have to say and what we might have missed.

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It is rather a task for an entomologist to tell if it is normal/abnormal development and for what stage of pupation. For practical purposes - bees threw out a single pupa because they decided something was wrong with it. Meh. If it was massive event it would be something to worry about.

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Hi everyone, thanks for your quick replies!
We did a brood inspection 12 days ago, so 11 days prior to this dead bee.
Generally seems to be a good brood pattern (photo attached taken during the last inspection showing one of the outer frames). I’d welcome comments on whether this looks like an ok brood pattern, as I’m new to beekeeping.
It wasn’t windy when we did the inspection and it was mid to high 20s.
There was 200mm of rain in our suburb (inner west Sydney) on Sunday just gone.
We have had a slight wax moth problem. The bees have been killing and evicting wax moth larvae at a rate of about 1 to 2 larave a week, I’m not sure if this would have caused the dead baby bee? There’s been no signs or more moth larvae for about a week now. When we did the brood inspecrion 12 days ago, no obvious signs of wax moth were presnt.

Does this help?

I’ve just gone out and found a second dead baby bee on the landing board! Should I be worried?

I wouldn’t be too concerned at a few deaths of larvae in the colony, they were probably ‘terminated’ by the colony because of a problem with those particular larvae and the bees cleared the cell of the dead bee so the cell could be used again. Nature can seem cruel but it is all about the survival of the bee with the better genes. The pic of the dead bee isn’t from chalk brood, chalk brood looks white, chalk white, as @Eva 's pic shows and dried out.

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Taking your location, the time of year & recent rain event into consideration, I tend to think hive beetles have been active inside the hive & the bees are quickly undoing any damage the beetles may have caused with pupae being part of the damage. Hopefully the bees are able to overwhelm any damage the beetles cause, if that is the case.

I see a bit of that myself. I sometimes find grooves in brood frames that are obviously caused by beetles that the bees have overwhelmed.

I can tell it’s caused by beetles because after the bees clean it up, they leave it empty for quite a few months.

PS The pupae could be drone pupae. Drone brood, especially large areas of drone brood are very vulnerable to beetle damage from my experience.

Yes, your post helps a lot. The photo is great too.

Wax moths generally don’t go through brood areas in an active hive. They prefer pollen frames and honey supers. Of course they will use brood areas if “allowed” to by the bees. One thing that concerns me a little is the brood pattern. Is this one of the best brood frames, or one of the worst, or are they all like this? I would guess that this is a frame from near the edge of the hive, but if not, I would be concerned.

The other thing that I can see in your photo is a couple of perforated brood caps. This may be because a bee is about to emerge. However, it may also be that the nurse bees are not happy with the larva, and intending to eject it. This is normal. The brood doesn’t look unhealthy to me, just the brood pattern is not very dense. That is normal for the edge of the brood nest, but not for the center.

As far as the other comments above, I think the larva could be very early chalk brood, but unless we examine it under the microscope, we won’t be able to know. It is a young larva as there is no pigment in the eyes. The commonest cause of chalk brood is chilled brood. Chilling the brood allows the fungus to get a headstart. @JeffH has personal experience of this, in a situation where he wasn’t expecting it. Overall, I don’t think you need to get too upset about it if you have dense brood in other frames in the hive. :wink:


Those perforated cells are bees starting to emerge. There are 3 other bees in that vicinity about to emerge. Because of the volume of honey on that frame, I’m guessing that it’s one of the outside frames. I like the brood pattern. Sometimes the queen can’t lay in every cell on account of stored pollen, so therefore it looks uneven.

I can’t even see the head or eyes on that pupae, I’m guessing that hive beetle larvae chewed the head off before the bees evicted it.

Can you please elaborate a bit on why you are concerned Dawn? I see it is not a perfect solid brood pattern, but I do sometimes find frames with similar pattern, they eventually fill up. Should I be concerned too?

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I guess @Dawn_SD means shot brood pattern.
To me looks looks more like emerged brood and bees are filling available cells with honey.

That’s what I thought too. Shot brood is a bit more scattered from photos I saw. I never had it myself.

I have seen that a lot in hives with failing queens. Gradual reduction in brood area, more patchy laying and much more honey in the frame.

Having said that, this pattern is totally normal for outer brood frames. The point is, we don’t know where the frame came from that is in that photo. Personally, I really don’t think that is is “shot brood” per @ABB’s possible suggestion.


The frame was taken from the second outermost frame from an 8 frame brood box. So it’s an outer edge frame, not a center frame. Does that help?

There was about three bees emerging during the inspection and there was uncapped bee larvae in the cells too. That gave us some hope that everything was normal.

Id be interested to hear everyone’s thoughts on that

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Yes. Don’t worry. It all looks OK with that in mind. I think you are just exceptionally observant and caring about the other things, which makes your bees very lucky. :blush: