In the past week I noticed that the sweet, pleasant odor that I normally smell while standing near the front of my hive had taken on a sour tinge. Today while inspecting my hive I noticed it even stronger. I have read that European foulbrood may cause a sour odor, but I didn't notice anything visibly out of the ordinary in the hive. Does a large amount of unripe honey in the hive cause this? I have been feeding the bees sugar syrup heavily because they were queenless for a long time and the stores weren't good. There is now a large amount of uncapped honey in the hive. I just finished treating them with terramycin. Any info on this would ease my mind and educate me, as this is my first year keeping bees.
What sort of 'sour smell' are we talking about? Is it a vegetable smell? It could well be some sort of nectar the bees are bringing in. If you've been treating with TM, you certainly shouldn't have foulbrood, unless there's resistant AFB in your part of the world. If you're not sure, there must be someone in your local Beekeepers' Association who could advise.
Thanks for replying. The sour smell is not unpleasant. It really is similar to the pleasant odor that usually comes from the hive, but with a sour twang to it. It probably is just a late season nectar. I just don't want to overlook anything and lose my hive.
Goldenrod nectar has a strong smell. Take a whiff of the flowers to see if it is the same smell you are getting at the hive.
The smell of goldenrod honey being processed has quite a drawing effect on bears.
Hello, Rick and all,
Sorry I didn't read this thread earlier. Another pollen type that produces odd-smelling honey is aster. As Pollinator suggested, smell the flowers (if they grow in your area) and see if it is similar to what you're sensing around your hives. Unfortunately now, you'll have to wait until next fall to do this.
I, too, was concerned this past fall that foulbrood had penetrated my yard until I really paid attention to what I was smelling -- the slightly acrid aster.
Thanks everyone for replying. I found that when I was winterizing my hive that the strong odor had pretty much diminished and the sweeter more pleasant odor I was used to had returned. Another thing I learned in my first year is that strong sour smelling nectar comes in to the hive in the fall in this area. It's nice to learn these things. It gives me a good feeling to learn from nature.