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Grim observations at my beehive

Home Forums HoneyLove Forum Grim observations at my beehive


This topic contains 6 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Karim Sahli 4 years, 6 months ago.

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    Karim Sahli

    [Click on the pictures to enlarge.]


    I “rescued” a feral beehive about three months ago and I finally decided to pay them a (long due) visit.

    My first surprise was to realize how few bees were left – just a very little clump, barely a few hundreds vs a good 5,000 when I discovered them.

    I found (what I believe to be) quite a high number of queen cells.
    Queen cells
    Since I didn’t found a lot of dead bodies around, my guess is the colony swarmed again. The left bees decided to get a new queen.

    The feral “left over” was rotten and moldy. No bees were on it. I discarded it.

    Here is a close up. What are all those black drops? Poop? Mites? I have no clue.
    Mold Closup

    I am not sure what to do at that point. I am really doubtful they’ll survive the winter.
    Should I feed them with sugar cane water?
    Any advice is welcome.

    Best Regards,

    • This topic was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by  Karim Sahli.
    • This topic was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by  Karim Sahli.
    • This topic was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by  Karim Sahli.

    Rob McFarland

    Hey Karim,

    Looks like wax moths. You can read about them here on Michael Bush’s site (which btw is a great resource for learning about treatment-free beekeeping):

    Here’s an interview we did with Michael:




    Karim Sahli

    Thank you Rob!


    Ruth Askren

    It looks like your bees had done a great job of building additional comb, as you can see the light colored, brand new stuff which they attached the cut out comb with. But yes, as Rob said, those cocoons are from hive moths, which thrive when bees have too much space to defend. Probably you had a bunch of empty frames in the box, and the small number of bees you had couldn’t keep it patrolled. That’s why when you do a cut out, it’s important to put your rescued bees and comb into a box that’s appropriately sized for them If you only got three frames of brood and storage, put them in a nuc. Especially towards the end of summer/ fall, you want to keep them snug in the equipment you provide and not too much empty space.

    The other side of that coin, is that 3 months is too long to wait -usually- to inspect a newly cut out hive. You want to give them 3 weeks to requeen if necessary, and then take a look. You would be looking for new larvae, and/or a queen cell. Try it again! Good luck.


    ken miller

    The larva seen in the picture is wax moth larva (lesser wax moth). The webbing is made by the larve as the eat the cocoons of the bees previously hatched out. The black specks are larva feces.

    If the feral bees you hived made some new comb which have the spotty brood pattern in the picture above, then they had a queen when you hived them. So, either the queen died or they swarmed. It is possible that they were Africanized…Africanized bees have a high swarm tendency.

    Recommend checking a recently hived swarm after 1 week. Upon close inspection you will be able to see eggs layed in the bottom of the cells.. they look like a tiny piece of straw about 1/32-inch long. If you have no eggs and no bee larva aged less than 72 hours after hatch out, the bees will not be able to make a queen (hopelessly queenless). You could combine these queenless bees with another hive. There are several methods of doing this.


    susan rudnicki

    Mr Miller—would you cite the document you refer to in “Africanized bees have a high swarm tendency”? I have heard this assertion many times but have not seen a study on it—seems more folklore than my own experience. The Ag Commission of LA County did a survey of ferals here in 1994 and found a average of 9 colonies per square mile as well as a preponderance of the population showing African genetics on lab testing. Still, with good space management, I don’t find them swarming willy-nilly.


    Karim Sahli

    I cleaned up the hive. No more moth cells. No more disgusting wax frames.

    Thank you all for your kind help.

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