WORMS on bottom board?!

Dear all,
I pulled out the bottom boards on both my hives today to see what I could learn. HERE is what I saw!!! Maggots? Larvae? It was full of them, creeping and crawling!!!
Eeeeek… what is happening to my poor beehive?

The other bottom board looked, I think, normal? I wasn’t sure how to spot varroa mites, but at least there were no creepy crawlies…

Probably Wax moth. You may find some empty cocoons in any wooden gaps. Also you may see little dark coloured pellets on the inspection board.

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Most of those look like wax moth larvae to me, and they love it when you don’t clean the plastic slider - free wax!!! :smiling_imp:

Without a measuring scale, it is hard to tell, because wax moth and SHB larvae look similar, but SHB are less than 1/2" long, and wax moths are at least that and often bigger.

Also, I think I do see some varroa in your photos, but again, it is hard to be sure - certainly can’t quantitate it for treatment purposes, and the best way to be certain is a sugar roll test (Google it for videos and detailed instructions). It only takes 5 mins, and it is pretty accurate.

One more thing, the debris is pretty dark - hope you are not to close to fire zones, some of that looks like ash that fell on us some years ago!! :scream:


Ugh! Is it bad? This is an already weak beehive (the one that didn’t have a queen…) Is there anything I can do to help?

Performing the sugar roll test now…

Also, I don’t know if this is the same species, but I also found these little buggers…

The larvae are just normal if there is wax buildup. The cocoons mean they made it to maturity and then the bees removed them. It means the hive has too much space and can’t guard it all.


Thanks Michael, that’s reassuring.

Dawn: I counted 13 mites on the entire bottom board (the only thins I should count are the shiny oval red ones, yes?)

Yes the shiny red/rusty ovals, but… First in the old system, you needed to know how long the sheet had been in place. The mite drop is counted and then the numbers which are significant depends on the number of days the board has been in place. In any case, the actual representation of varroa infestation is probably wildly off, and the Minnesota sugar roll is MUCH more accurate of an indicator of whether you need to treat. That is assuming you believe in treating at all. I prefer not to treat, but my bees are beginning to worry me this year, and I don’t have a big enough apiary to rely on survivors resisting varroa naturally (2 hives of my own and 2 with a friend). Both of my own hives are showing DWV viral infection signs - if I lose them, I will have to spend $350 to recolonize. If I get a significant sugar roll count this month, I will be treating with oxalic acid vapor, even though I would love not to do that and I know it is better for the larger bee population if I don’t.

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Might I suggest that you take the board out every day and brush it clear. It must be annoying the living daylights out of those bees; they are clean creatures and they can’t get to the stuff. I thought the whole idea of a mesh floor was so that all that crud could fall through to the ground yet every body here seems to have turned their mesh floor into a solid one. Is that how a flow hive is supposed to be run? I think next year I will leave the thing right out like the rest of my hives.


Hi Olivia - wax moths are to be expected if they have a place to be successful wax moths :slight_smile:

Besides limiting any extra space in the hive another way to keep them at bay is to eliminate the debris on the bottom board like Dee said. That way there’s no fun stuff for them to eat and lay in.

There are indeed several varroa mites on your boards. Frankly, here in the states, if you have bees, you have varroa mites.

Remember this - and this is directed at those of you that choose not to treat too - your pest management program is only as good as your neighboring beekeepers’ pest management programs.

Think about that one :wink:


I have seen 3 wax moth larvae on one of my bottom boards over the last 3 days. Do I need to do anything about them?

Look for webs in your combs. Look for combs not covered by bees and check those. You may or may not have a problem.

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Do as Michael says, but i would add, you need to assess the strength of your hive. A strong hive will control pests. If it is not very strong, you may need to consider compressing them into a smaller space, or combining them with another hive if you have that option.

I note that you also have ants on your board. Do you have an ant problem? In California, Argentine ants can starve a hive pretty quickly, as we almost discovered this year. :disappointed_relieved:

Yes, Dawn, there was an intrusion of ants. As you know, they can invade in a heartbeat; but we caught then early and retreated the legs of the hive and have stopped the trail. Now just a matter of getting rid of the lingerers, which I try to do by brushing off any I see. I just put that sticky bottom board on there to check on mites, but it did get several ants as bonus!

As far as the wax moths go. If I get into the hive and do see a “problem” with wax moths, what is the treatment? Remove those areas of the comb? Or just what?

Thanks for your advice. I know you are in SCAL, so with me being on the Central Coast, I appreciate your advice.

Dawn: In response to your comment below:

I prefer not to treat, but my bees are beginning to worry me this year, and I don’t have a big enough apiary to rely on survivors resisting varroa naturally (2 hives of my own and 2 with a friend). Both of my own hives are showing DWV viral infection signs - if I lose them, I will have to spend $350 to recolonize. If I get a significant sugar roll count this month, I will be treating with oxalic acid vapor, even though I would love not to do that and I know it is better for the larger bee population if I don’t.

What did you end up doing? I almost lost a hive to DWV and caught them just in time by treating with oxalic acid vapor (it was in Oct). I was shocked at the level of varroa mites after treatment. But it was hard on the hive. Prior to treating, I had noticed a lot of crawlers in the months prior but was too new to beekeeping to realize what was going on.

Now I am seeing evidence of varroa (mites on bottom board), frequent crawlers; but the hives (I have 3) seem very active and other than the one that I posted recently with wax moth larvae on the bottom board, they seem pretty strong. I am, therefore, on the fence as to whether to treat with oxalic acid vapor, wait until it gets cooler, or skip it. It might be a little hot this week, but if I treat I want to allow time for the hive to recover before winter. Just wondered what you ended up doing.

It is hard to control wax moths, so it is best to let the bees do it. They will easily control moths, if the hive is strong. Being overrun with wax moths is a sign of a weak hive, so combine it with another hive, or shrink down the space they have to defend.

I did a sugar roll mite count and it was too low to treat. I will do another one later this month and make a final decision.

Note that once you see bees with deformed wings the colony WILL collapse sooner or later if you do nothing.
Good luck and I hope you save them

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I have decided to treat the one hive where varroa seems to be a problem. I am getting into it later today to get things prepared and then likely do the Miteaway strips tomorrow evening. I have not seen any evience of DWV but a fair number of crawlers.

I would love to hear how it goes. :blush:

Just got into the hive where there were about 6 wax moth larvae over the last week on the bottom board. That was very interesting in that I saw absolutely NO evidence of wax moths…no worms, no webbing, etc. There were some interesting things with this hive I’d like to share with you:

This 8-frame hive has 3 Flow Frames in the top box with w 2 regular deep frames on either side. The 2 inside regular frames were full of honey on one side and being filled with honey on the other. The 2 outside frames were partially built out on the inside side. The flow frames had been worked to seal the cells; but absolutely no other work on them. Nada!

Earlier in the year, I had seen the bees busily working the Flow Frames and there were a good many of them visible through the observation windows on either side of the box. By later this summer, however, the activity seemed to stop. At one point, I opened the top cover to put in a pollen patty and was promptly stung by a very aggressive bee. This hive was from a new package this spring with a marked queen that was supposed to be very gentle…and they had been, initially. Needless to say, I really didn’t want to get back into that hive, so I have left it be for about 6 weeks…maybe longer.

Recently, we noticed it seemed to be more active and when those wax months showed up I knew I had to get in there and take a look. The bees were as gentle as could be. There was some VERY STRANGE comb formation in the box under the Flow Box (see photo) with long cones of comb in places which I scrapped off. My configuration is 1 deep, 1 standard, 1 Flow box. The standard had a mix of sealed brood (although not a great laying pattern), sealed honey and nectar, some open cells. The deep box had about the same, but the laying pattern again was not solid, more patchy. We finally found the queen on the next to last frame we looked at.

BUT…she was NOT the marked queen that came with the package! So…what happened and when? My thoughts are that at some point over the summer the marked queen died and the colony replaced her (although I saw no supersedure cells). There was a lot of burr comb on the frame bottoms so maybe they were disguised?). Maybe this sudden increased activity of the hive is because they are once again queen right? Maybe the less than perfect laying pattern is because she is a new queen? Maybe as you said in an original question about wax moths, the bees have taken care of them?

I welcome any comments. My concern is that this new queen may not be well mated and there are fewer drones around to perform the task. Should I leave that flow box on for now, even though I will not get any harvest from it (other than maybe from the standard deep frames on either side of the Flow Frames? I have switched the queen excluder to between the bottom deep and the standard box so once that brood up in the standard has hatched I could possibly replace the Flow box with another deep regular box for winter.

Thanks Dawn and anyone else who would like to comment.

Central Coast California

Excellent! Not a weak hive then. :wink:

I have had queens rub off their mark before now. I am pretty sure that they did that, because the inspections were only a week apart, there was no brood gap and no queen cells on the intervening inspections. Just several weeks of notes remarking that I hadn’t seen the queen. Once I looked more closely after two weeks of not seeing her, she was there, just without a mark. Having said that, this was on a queen who arrived with a rather patchy mark at the start.

Just because the bees change their mood, it doesn’t mean the queen has changed. It can mean that, but it can also mean that they are in a nectar dearth and short of food, or they have been harassed by skunks or wasps etc.

Or maybe your pollen patty stimulated a lot of brood production. :blush:

Or maybe it is the time of year. My queens are becoming more erratic in their patterns right now, but we have little nectar coming in, so I am not surprised. If your queens are Italians, they may not shut down laying completely, they just get a bit more untidy in my experience. You may find more honey mixed in with the brood - that is why my hives do.

I think so, but it is a constant battle, like with ants, so you will probably find more.

I would take it off. You could freeze the traditional frames that have honey in them, and put them (after defrosting and bringing back to room temperature) into the brood box over winter to feed your bees when they run low on stores. The freezing will kill off any wax moth eggs and larvae within about 48 hours. I wouldn’t want to risk propolis in the Flow frames, it is a pain to clean it up and if they feel a draft between the cells, they will use propolis.