Mold and Moisture
Mar 21, 2012
Today was warm enough this afternoon that the bees were out flying in abundance. I saw a few with pollen of various colors and the entrance to both hives was busy. Since my time this weekend for a hive inspection might be limited, I decided to do a quick look into Kashyyyk or as it is called more often "the brown hive". After popping the outer and inner cover (the moisture quilt box was removed about a week ago) looking in it was apparent the bees were concentrated on the 5 frames on the west side of the hive. Replacing the inner cover I then took the whole box off and placed it on the outer cover beside the hive. There was about 3 or 4 frames of bees again concentrated on the west side of the hive. Thinking that was strange, I used my hive tool to pull out the first frame opposite to where the bees were congregating. To my dismay the frame was covered in fluffy grey mold! No wonder the bees were avoiding this area.
2 more frames were removed with various degrees of moldiness on them. None of them as bad as the first one. This hive did not have a screened bottom board but instead had a slatted rack so my guess is that the moisture was staying in this hive even with the moisture quilt box. Everything I have read states there must be an exchange of air through the hive to keep the moisture level down. I now am a firm believer of the power of the screened bottom board.
There was a lot of what looked like sawdust on and in the cells on the frames that were not as moldy. Any one know what this might be from? First thoughts were Varroa feces but it seems like a lot unless my hive was severely infested. I then realized it was sugar crystals from when i did a dry sugar feed going into the spring.
As the frames were scraped into the garbage I noticed that these were the pollen frames. All the moldy bits were on the pollen, not on the empty cells or cells with honey.
One promising note, I looked at one of the frames where the bees were hanging out and saw brood that was emerging as well as fresh eggs and a few larvae. Hopefully I have enough time this weekend to fully inspect and clean up the hive.