I'm a first-year beekeeper. I have an 8-frame Langstroth Flow Hive with (2) deep brood boxes, I’m located in lower NY state / Hudson Valley area.
On September 30th I started seeing piles of what look like uncapping debris on the bottom board inspection tray. The debris is dark in color, has a fine texture and aligns with the frame direction.
I did an inspection this past weekend and found large areas on the center (5) frames (both sides of frame) in the lower brood box had been chewed all the way down to the foundation. It seems to only be in areas of the frames that had brood, the outer frames with only honey/nectar/pollen and the areas on the chewed frames with capped honey / nectar are untouched and none of the frames in the upper brood box (currently loaded with capped honey / nectar) have been affected.
I thought it might be a mouse, but then I noticed that one of the frames is a wax & wire foundation not plastic. If it were a mouse, I would have thought it would have chewed right through the wax foundation, instead there is a very definite outline of each cell remaining in the areas where the chewing has taken place on that wax foundation. There is also no other evidence of mice (i.e. droppings, nest material, chewing on frames / boxes) - so I don't think this is being caused by a mouse. I had the Flow Hive entrance reducer installed starting Sept 30th.
In response to this same questions, it was suggested by Fred Dunn that this might be wasp attack damage with the wasps entering / exiting the hive early in the morning before the cluster descends into the lower box. This makes a lot of sense to me (and I very much respect and appreciate Fred's considered insight) but I would have thought that at some point the bees and wasps would have interacted and had a "war" to some degree.
Over the course of 3-weeks that I have been constantly seeing this damage I have not seen any dead wasps on the bottom board or in front of the hive so I am wondering if this could be something else.
I installed a slatted rack on Sept 18th - not sure it's important but figured I'd mention it in case there's some significance.
This hive has been very healthy all season and is currently queen right, with a good population of bees and loaded with resources for the winter (fingers crossed).
Is it possible that the bees are chewing the comb down for some reason, maybe hygienic behavior?
Any other thoughts on what is causing this?
I haven't been able to find any other visuals online showing what wasp damage to comb looks like - if someone could share that I would really appreciate it!
Thanks in advance for any insights or advice!!
- if anyone