White Spots and Smears

Looking at some of my bees doing the washboarding thing at the front of the hive entrance, I noticed several of them had either tiny white dots speckled on them (on the thorax of most of them, but I did see one with a couple speckles on its eye) or a grayish smear across the abdomen. I didn’t really see it on any of the returning or leaving foragers, however. It seemed to primarily be on the young bees doing their duty on the front porch.

I can’t really find any information about what it could be except that it might either be tulip poplar or fecal matter from varroa mites. I really hope it’s not the latter. I have not seen any varroa in my hive, and with the intense heat as of lately I would be surprised if any mites could survive. I’m going to have to get into the hive and check things out this weekend, varroa can be devastating to a colony.

The 1st Annual Michigan Honey Festival is this weekend in Imlay City (I know, I know, I’m absolutely bee crazy), and so I’m definitely going to see if anyone there knows what the white spots could be.

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7 thoughts on “White Spots and Smears

    • I hope you’re right. It would be so weird for them to just suddenly have some disease without any warning signs. I wish I had taken a photo of it right when I saw it. Today was extra rainy, so I’ll try to snap one off tomorrow. I’ll have to look into what just bloomed around my area that could give such a white/gray pollen….

  1. Hope it’s just pollen. There are some plants, like Himalayan Balsam, which deposit pollen on parts of the bees’ thorax that they can’t reach to groom.

    I don’t think the heat will have affected the varroa mites though – the bees will be maintaining the brood nest at around 35C, which is just fine for the mites. You could perhaps try uncapping some drone brood, don’t rely on just looking at the frames as most of the mites will be safely breeding inside cells at this time of year.

    • Thanks for the pointers! I went to the 1st Annual Michigan Honey Festival today and spoke to a lot of local keepers. They really don’t think it’s anything other than pollen. But one said, even if it were, then my bees wouldn’t be worth keeping around anyways because we only want the best and the strongest bees to survive. I couldn’t agree more, but still, it’s tough to not feel bad if that had been the case….

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