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White/Grey Lava?


Hi fellow bee keepers I’m from Melbourne Australia, where we are just in our last week of winter. I just inspected the hive today and discovered two small slugs which I removed from the hive and a small black beetle 3cm long and 2cm wide. There are also small white balls at the bottom of the hive. I was told by a horticulturist that these might be the dead lava. Do I need to be concerned about the two slugs or the white balls?


Hooley Dooley… thats one huge beetle! Did you mean mm?

Do you have any photos to share of the beetle and small white balls & larva? very difficult to make an assessment without a visual inspection.


If it is 3mm by 2mm, it could be a small hive beetle. Apparently sightings of SHB in Victoria is reportable. So I read the other day.


Yes it was quite a large beetle, I will go back tomorrow and get a photo. Thanks for your quick response.


Just inspected the hive and here’s some photos.


Hi Berend, thanks for sending the photo through, its not the best. I do think you will need to get a much clear and higher resolution photo, the beetle is very fuzzy. From this photo I cannot make a positive identification.
What is on the bottom of the hive? Looks like gravel, but I sure hope its not mummified bee larva (i.e. chalkbrood). Could you please get some better photos.


Sure I could only upload one photo at a time hopefully this one is better.

This one doesn’t have the beetle but hopefully it shows the other concerns



Hey, ok. Regarding that beetle, pull it out and place into a jar, take some high resolution photos and if possible take along to your next bee club meeting or contact your biosecurity officer in Victoria, just in case. There is an alert out to beekeepers to be on the lookout for the large African hive beetle.

I can confirm you have Chalkbrood and going by your previous photo, its a serious concern. It is a very common fungal disease within hives and many of us have had it before. Difficult to rid out of your hive and the spores can remain viable for decades. If you are having dry weather, remove your bottom tray and dispose of all the larval mummies into a plastic bag, make sure none end up on the ground. Fungal infections love damp warm conditions, the additional ventilation will help keep it under control, make sure you keep the brood warm, if you have a super on, remove it. Reduce to 1 box if possible. My advice then is to start ringing/emailing for a hygienic queen, there is a very good queen breeder in Victoria who is breeding specifically to help eliminate chalkbrood, her name is Jodie Gerdts. See the link below for contact details, if she doesn’t have anything available then she may be able to point you to a queen breeder with her breeder stock. Hope this helps.


Good advice from Rodderick. Feeding can help too - sugar syrup and perhaps protein supplements (I’ve never tried the latter but the former helped).
Was there capped brood in the hive when you had a look?
After you take the good photo of the beetle please put it on the Flow Forum and we’ll have a crack at it first - whilst you’re getting it to the club or biosecurity.:grinning:


First of all thanks so much for helping me out. I love this forum. Ok I’ll get that beetle. So is chalk brood just dead lava?
During winter I compacted it down to one box and closed up the Hive entrance with some wood (leaving a small gap for the bees)
I did remove the white plastic slider and cleaned that but do I need to lift the brood box off completely and then clean it?
Yes there is capped brood and uncapped brood. The hive is in a shady area and the flow hive seems damp.

When reqeening is it more complex than just switching two queens?
Sorry if there are to many questions I’m eager to learn.


Hey Berends, hope I got your name right. If you have a more sunny spot, then look to move your hive there, this will help. Chalkbrood is mummified larva after the fungus has completely devoured their bodies, the white part of the chalkbrood mummies is the fruiting part of the fungus (spores) so you want to clean them up as regularly as you can.
You may not get a new queen for some time (a couple of months) but at least get yourself on a waiting list. If this cures itself, then you can always ring back and cancel the queen order.
Re-queening is simple process but the old queen needs to be dispatched first. Then the new queen is introduced over 2-3 days via the cage she arrives in. The workers will eat the candy plug away and the new queen can emerge after her smell has been accepted by the colony.


In Victoria Chalk Brood is still, presently a notifiable disease, this may change in the next year along with SHB. I was told last Summer, when I reported my hive, that there had been a significant increase of the disease last season. A combination of increased rainfall during Spring & Summer, subsequent increases in humidity & the resulting poor forage for the Bees, both pollen & nectar. You go to the same site as Hive registration to report. If you are registered you should have been sent the following a few months ago, it gives basic outlines of Bee Pests & Diseases & what your responsibilities are.



Ok thanks for the help and information. I just reported the chalkbrood to Russell Goodman from Victoria Agriculture. I do remember seeing dead lava in the cells when I received the colony. But didn’t know what it was when I got it.


Hope all goes well. I think I may contact the person Rodderick recommended myself.


Thats disappointing! … They should have known better.


Just some suggestions - ignore any you have tried etc. Probably take the Flow super off for a while if you have it on. Get the hive down to just the brood box. Also, put the coreflute to the lowest setting and put a banana skin on top of it for a day or two. Make sure the chalkbrood mummies are not caught in the wire screen. You can pull out the coreflute and check that with a mirror underneath - although probably difficult as it looks like you have your hive flush on those timbers. You can put a couple of 4 x 2’s under it at each end to lift it up (and keep them there). Water in the hive is often caused by dew point on the underside of the inner cover. Perhaps a blanket over the top of the hive might help. With the high pressure system over us at the moment the nights are cool. Warmer weather on the way with the northerly as the next front approaches. You can bring chalkbrood under control but it may come back at any time. I’d be surprised if with feeding the hive and condensing it down etc (as per Rodderick and others suggestions above), you haven’t brought it under control in a couple of weeks.

It is not notifiable in Tassie anymore but I was told it is the number one disease in hives in Australia year before last.


Have you had any hives with Chalk Brood, & if so what worked for you & how long was it present in your hive? The bees in my hive are very active in removing infected larvae & mummies. It was confined to 2 frames (3 sides). I am wondering if i should be thinking about contacting Jodie Gerts for queen specifically bred to eliminate CB, or if their present behaviour will be enough? I haven’t been able to inspect as yet, still too cold, but this hive did have some problems with condensation during first weeks of build up after winter solstice.


Ok will do. It is currently just the brood box at the moment. What does the banana skin do just out of curiosity?
Tomorrow is 17 degrees is that hot enough to lift off the brood box and clean out the metal screen.
Ok an what ratio of sugar to water for the syrup, 1:1?


The chemical in the banana odour is the same as the one in the bee’s alarm pheromone so it might give them a “rocket” to clean up the mummies better and get them out of the hive. I think ants then eat them (the mummies) as well as bacteria breaking them down. Lots of protein there. I’d at least have a look at it at 17c to see if there are any mummies on the screen. It can be a job getting them out if they are caught but 17c should be fine for a short while. I’d do 1:1 -the bees have to dry out the sugar syrup and you can get an increase in moisture condensation issues (because of the extra moisture in the hive) . Severe frost warning tonight Vic. and Tas.