Why Are There Bee Larvae on the Hive Bottom Board?

Bee larvae found on the bottom board of a hive can be an alarming sight for many beekeepers. In many cases, larvae found on the hive bottom board are the result of wax moth larvae or small hive beetle larvae that were present in the colony's brood chamber or comb. These pests may feed on bee brood, causing the bee larvae to fall onto the bottom board.

Investigating the source of the problem, implementing proper management techniques, and monitoring the colony's health is crucial to resolving this situation.

Why Bee Larvae Appear on the Hive Bottom Board

Small hive beetles can cause empty larval skeletons or dripping honey to appear on the bottom board. When small hive beetle larvae fall through the screen of the bottom board, an oil tray can be used to drown the larvae.

Another cause for bee larvae on the bottom board could be attributed to the hive design. Some screens, such as the screen bottom board, can create a space between the screen and the plastic sheet, making it difficult for bees to clean and maintain the area. This can lead to larvae accumulating on the bottom board.

Causes of Bee Larvae on the Hive Bottom Board

Hygienic Behaviour of Bees

Bees with strong hygienic traits are apt to remove unhealthy or dead larvae from the hive, which may result in discarded larvae on the bottom board. This shield against disease can be seen as a natural approach to maintaining hive health, as noted in Honey Bee Health Guide.

Varroa Mites Infestation

Varroa mites are one of the most significant threats to honey bees. An infestation of these parasites can damage the brood, leading to deformed or dead larvae. Affected larvae might then end up on the hive’s bottom board if the bees attempt to remove them from the hive to contain the infestation.

Diseased larvae

Diseases such as chalkbrood can be fatal to larvae. When the nurse bees attending to the brood come across dead larvae, they discard them, ideally out of the hive. Sometimes, depending on the weather, they may not dispose of the larvae correctly, which is why you might find some larvae on the bottom board.

How to Prevent Bee Larvae on the Hive Bottom Board

Proper Hive Maintenance

Ensuring that the hive is clean and properly ventilated can prevent the buildup of debris and bee larvae on the bottom board. Remove any dead bees, propolis, and excess wax regularly. It’s also crucial to maintain proper spacing between frames guaranteeing that the bees build a straight comb that is easy to inspect.

Monitor and Manage Pests

Pests such as varroa mites, small hive beetles, and wax moths can cause larvae to end up on the bottom board. Monitor your hive for these pests and invest time in pest management strategies. For instance, you can install a screened bottom board with an oil tray to trap and drown small hive beetle larvae (American Bee Journal).

Regular Hive Inspections

Inspecting your hive regularly helps identify potential larvae problems early on. Check for signs of pest infestations, damaged comb, and excess larvae. By keeping track of your hive’s health, you can take appropriate actions before larvae buildup becomes a significant issue (Bee Health).

Effects on Hive Health

One possible reason for bee larvae on the hive bottom board is an infestation of Small Hive Beetles (SHB). The larval stage of SHB causes the majority of the damage to active hives by burrowing into combs and eating brood, honey, and pollen. These beetles are attracted by the smell of live bees and combs containing pollen and/or larvae, entering beehives through entrances or cracks in the hives.

Another possibility is the presence of wax moth larvae, which may be found on the bottom board alongside varroa mites, SHB larvae, and other debris. Wax moth larvae are also known to consume honeycomb and may disrupt the healthy functioning of the hive.

It’s important to inspect the objects found on the bottom board to identify the causes and take appropriate actions to maintain hive health. Healthy worker, queen, and drone larvae are typically pearly white with a glistening appearance, while pests or diseases may alter their appearance.

Regular hive inspections, proper hive maintenance, and ensuring strong, healthy colonies are effective ways to prevent these issues from escalating and threatening the overall health of the hive.


In summary, finding bee larvae on the hive bottom board can be attributed to various factors. It could be bees performing hygienic activities, such as removing dead or unhealthy larvae from the hive to maintain cleanliness and prevent the spread of diseases.

Perhaps the hive is infested with pests, such as SHB and Wax moth larvae, and it’s important to address the issue to prevent further damage to the hive and bees.

By taking these factors into account and addressing any potential issues, beekeepers can maintain healthy and thriving hives while preventing bee larvae from accumulating on the bottom board.

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