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Bee Diarrhea

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I think one of my hives has a problem. I noticed that it has been covered with bee poop on days it has been warm enough for cleansing flights. Not just a little, a lot. I have 4 other hives that are more populous and they don't even have half as much as this hive.

The hive blew over in early December. I scooped it back together when I found out hoping for the (maybe on the ground 1-2 days at most). They seemed to have survived so far with a small cluster and no honey stores when I checked in late February.

I didn't want to give them any surplus honey from other hives because I think the hive may be queenless and not worth saving anyway. It's been hard to find a good day to check because of the winter we are having and I don't want to stress the colony any more since it blew over and had no stores. I feed it a grease patty in hopes it would make it spring. All my hives were given them.

What could the problem be? Should I separate this hive from my others? Would it be wise to destroy it now, since I believe it is queeless anyway before any type of sickness spreads to my healthy colonies.

The only stresses that this hive was exposed to was the elements and also low stores, both from the date in December since it blew over.

There is still a small cluster in the hive. I'd say about half of that of a 3 lb package.
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1,683 Posts
How do you use menthol crystals for nosema?
I would like to know that too.

If your hives are low on stores, get them some food quick. Add some fumagilin b to the mix.

Wait scrap that idea. That idea would be good if the colony had a good chance to survive. On 1.5# of bees, still cold, could be iffy

Here are two ideas

1. get a nuc box and reduce the space of the cluster. This would give them a chance to keep their area warm. Add insulation on the tops and sides to keep them from getting chilled...then add feed and fumagilan to the hive. you can make a nuc box in a few hours with some plywood and scrap 2x4 for feet. Make it big enough for 4 frames. Good idea to have a couple of boxes on hand just in case.

2. You do not say what size of housing for this hive.. double brood chamber or what. If it is doubled, reduce and treat...if they have a queen. Then once they get better, reduce one of your strong hives to one box, spray them with scented 1:1 sugar water. IE vanilla, spearmint flavoring. Then take your surviving hive, spray with the same stuff and then combine with a sheet of newspaper and a queen excluder. Feed. And feed with pollen and sugar water. In three weeks, separate and you will have two equal strength hives in need of another brood chamber each. make sure you spray well enough that the queens scents are masked...but not dripping wet.
this is of course dependant that the sick hive gets better, and makes it. This process is very successful. However, if the strong hive senses that the weak hive's queen is weak, they will kill her. In a week from combining, check and see if the top box has eggs. If it does, all is well and separate in two weeks. If no eggs, pull the queen excluder and split later in the spring if needed

19 Posts
You need to act the second you see bee poop inside the hive or at the landing area to the enterance. Bees should poop in flight not in side the hive.

First consider the recent weather and have they had their exit blocked for more than 48 hrs. If you've had a day or two where the temp is over 45 degrees, then its probably warm enough for a short flight. Then check that their exit was clear and not blocked by dead bees, another reason I like having a second (top) enterance / exit.

Now if they had an exit and you've had a day of possible flight, next you have to check the honey in the hive for its water content. If its too high, it can cause diarrhea. This might not be the only problem, but the fix is to make sure you feed candy and bee pollen. You might even remove some of the high water % honey stores.

Check the hive smell and visually look for any other disease problems.

Now, we get the the not so fun part, now you have to check the bees for nossema and while you're at it maybe trach. mites.

Take a sample of about 50 lbs in a small jar (like a urine test jar) and send it to your closest bee lab. Tell them what you susspect is wrong and want them to check. If you're very into bee science and you have a binocular 400x microscope, and have a sperm counter or a Hemacytometer, then by all means do your own test.

So if it turns out you have nosema, then hope they live till the spring so you can requeen. We don't have much we can do since recent testsing is bringing into question the effectivity of Fumagilin / Fumidil B. But you could try one of those. I would suggest you swap out your wood wear for a clean hive. If poop is on the frames I would try to clean that as best as possible.

You could try using a sanatizing product on the dirty frames and wood. Perhaps dunking the comb into one of these:
B Brite or C-Brite (Crosby & Baker, LTD)

C-Brite Chlorine based no-rinse sanitizer
B-Brite Cleanser
Active oxygen cleanses without chlorine or sulfites

B-Brite is effective in cleaning and sanitizing. B-Brite has the active ingredient, Sodium Percarbonate. This is a mixture of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide. The sodium carbonate is for cleaning and the hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) provides the sanitization. The sanitizing time for B-Brite is 15 minutes. B-Brite is also very effective at reducing odors and is not environmentally damaging.
I would of course rise the frames after their lightly soaked. This is just an idea how to help clean up the hive, because nosema spores are like our common cold, they touch everything.

When spring comes and you requeen, the transition period and break in brood cycle often show signs of helping to reduce nosema spore counts, not to mention helping agains varroa.

I would also probably decide against breeding from a hive with diarrhea.
Good luck!
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