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Winter inspection in South Central Pennsylvania

It was 55F here in south central Pennsylvania si did a quick inspection. With so many reported losses, it makes me nervous getting my hives through the winter. Here are some picks with questions. I have 4 hives total.

What is this white pollen/goop that the bees are bringing in this time of year?

All hives seem to have a nice amount of bees in them… good sign so far.

What is the white stuff showing in the comb with the uncapped honey? Bees wax or mite pee?

I checked to screened bottom boards. One had 5 dead mites and this one had more like 20. Roughly a week since cleaning the board last. Should I be concerned? I did Mite away strips in Mid September and beginning of November.

Over all I was pleased how healthy all 4 hives seem. They are digging into the candy boards but seem to have a half box of honey as well. The candy boards have been in for 2 weeks.

Any comments/opinions are appreciated. This is my first winter with bees. Hard to see how much food stores they have left without taking frames out. I tried to lift a few and they seemed heavy still.



Congratulations Joe. Sorry I can’t comment about mites, living in Australia. Those white things in the cells look like sugar crystals to me. Are you using any added insulation? Added insulation I’m guessing should make the food stores last longer. I’m guessing you’ll have another 7 weeks of winter for that food to last.

The only insulation I am using is 2 inches of foam on the roof. Mostly to help keep condensation off the ceiling.

I am one of the few it seems using formic acid for mite control. Am I lucky so far or could it be more effective than the oxalic acid? Could be total circumstance too I guess.

Hoping to make some candy cakes to add later this winter. I want to error on over feeding being new to this.


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Those white spots at the top of the cells is Varroa guanine.
I agree. Treat with OAV

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It is white pollen. Hard to tell what it is from without doing microscopy on it. :smile: This article gives some ideas of which plant makes pollens of various colors:

Could be either, or crystallized honey. What is the orientation of that photo? Varroa deposits are always on the “roof” of cells, and always in cells which have had brood in them. Was this frame in the brood nest, or above a QX? Are we looking up from the bottom, or down from the top of the frame? If the deposits are in the bottom of the cells, I would go for crystallized honey or small bits of wax.

You can’t tell from the bottom board. You need to do a proper sugar roll test, or as @Dee and @Red_Hot_Chilipepper suggested to others, just decide to treat anyway. I prefer to treat only when needed, so I always do a sugar roll count, or treat anyway if I am seeing bees with DWV.


There must be some sturdy weed that lives during our coldest time of winter for that to be pollen. I do see some plant life in our flower beds.

The pictures I believe are correct with the top being the top. I lean towards the white specks being bits of wax or crystalized sugar. I feed heavy in the fall to build up there stores with sugar syrup which isnwhy it is not capped.

I used Formic acid (mite away) in the fall in early November. There were no brood to be seen. Do mites reproduce without brood? Or if there is no brood, the number of mites is fixed until spring?

I have Oxalic acid equipment coming to do a treatment in a week or 2. The hives currently seem very healthy.

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We live in the northwest corner of Virginia. Our climate is much the same as central PA. We are also newbees. Our number one concern is over wintering and what to do with the flow frames etc. thanks in advance for your help

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