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  • Hive Odor

    When I checked the bees after this past cold snap, I noticed one hive had an odor I would describe as like bread dough. Temp lows were down in the 20s for 4 days and one day was 19. The bees looked healthy, but the propolis on the frame rims was super gooey. This was the hive that exploded with brood a few weeks ago. Back then I vertically rotated the boxes to eventually get rid of a bottom 10 frame deep that I can’t lift safely and threw a blanket over that “now top” 10 frame deep box as it was separated from the queen and contained brood overnight when temps were SO cold. All the brood in that top excluded box is now capped and soon I can swap it with an 8 frame medium.

    This is the first year I’ve had hives make it through winter. What is up with that smell and gooey propolis?

  • #2
    The odour worries me, but I'm not having a guess as to what could be wrong. You say the bees look ok, but how about the brood? What does the brood look like? Where does the smell come from, is it from the honey or the brood ?
    Waregem - West-Vlaanderen - België (Flemish/Dutch)
    Waregem - West-Flanders - Belgium (English)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    My Blog
    https://beekeepingwithbob.blogspot.com/

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    • #3
      I'll look again this weekend. I didn't notice anything wrong with the brood either. Thanks for the reply.

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      • #4
        So, I inspected the hives. The odor had waned some. I think it comes from the honey. The bees and brood all look healthy.

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        • #5
          If it's the honey then there's not much to fuss over. Some nectar might have started to ferment, but the bees can handle that. At least, that's my experience.
          Waregem - West-Vlaanderen - België (Flemish/Dutch)
          Waregem - West-Flanders - Belgium (English)
          -------------------------------------------------------------------------
          My Blog
          https://beekeepingwithbob.blogspot.com/

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          • #6
            Bread dough is the normal smell of a hive. The bee bread is called that because it is yeasty.
            Nehawka, Nebraska. My website: bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm em portugues: bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm My book: ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
            -----"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin-----

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            • #7
              I've noticed my hives smell different depending on what they're gathering. Our Goldenrod season is about to start and the hive will smell like a dirty sock! The honey is still delicious but it has a distinct odor you can smell as you walk through the beeyard.

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              • #8
                I had a new experience this year with splits I did from another beekeeper a few hours away. (She gifted me the nuc splits as payment for doing the work to knock her colony sizes down). I discovered an extremely strong smell of dirty feet when approaching the hives and opening them. Not the rotting fish smell of AFB, just smelly feet (bacteria and fungal). Both colonies were in the process of superseding their queens who were no longer present. There were hundreds of pinholes in the cappings and deformed wings on workers. The owner of the bees stated she had treated them for mites with OA last fall. There were several symptoms reminiscent of a brood virus but they were missing the ropy sign for AFB and there were no twisted mummies as in EFB. I called the state entomologist who came and inspected the gal's hives (not mine) and she cleared them of Foul brood also.
                Interestingly, when I got home with the nucs I used the Bee Health Guru app (in it's beta phase) which detects colony health and status via sound. Normally the app appropriately shows low chances of problems in my healthy hives. But these two nucs it gave me a 50% chance of Foulbrood. When I contacted the inventor of the app, Jerry Bromenshank, he explained that there is an Idiopathic Foulbrood Syndrome which has been detected in several hives for at least a decade now. It has stronger connections with commercial hives from what I read. Several postulations have ranged from mite parasitism to poor forage to stress. Essentially, the hive is overrun with bacteria and fungus causing problems with the brood and the bad smell. But there is no single known cause.
                My two nucs successfully requeened themselves and 2 months later the smell is finally gone from the hives and no symptoms detectable.
                Angela
                Kalispell, Montana Zone 4a
                Third Year Journeyman Beekeeper

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