bee feces

Honey bee dysentery and water

Dysentery in honey bees is one of those unfortunate terms that results in nothing but confusion and misconception. It’s right up there with the word “organic” to describe food grown without manmade fertilizers and pesticides. If you apply the traditional meaning of organic—which, with a few exceptions, refers to chemical compounds containing carbon—then the large majority of chemicals used in conventional agriculture are definitely organic, including all those pesticides. No wonder people get confused.

In humans, dysentery refers to a condition caused by a pathogenic organism, but honey bee dysentery refers to a form of diarrhea caused by an excess of water in their intestines. To add to the confusion, honey bees also appear to get diarrhea from pathogenic organisms such as Nosema, but that is probably just an unfortunate correlation. If you feel confused, you are not alone.

Although excess water is often blamed for honey bee dysentery, the condition may ultimately be caused by too much bulk in the honey bee intestine. You can compare it to a human eating too much fiber. During the winter, when honey bees cannot take cleansing flights due to the cold weather, the amount of solids stored in their intestines continues to increase. These solids come mostly from the honey they eat. Some honey has more solids than others and, typically, dark-colored honey has more solids than light-colored honey.

Since bees can only retain about 30 to 40 percent of their body weight in fecal matter, when the time between cleansing flights is too long, they will void inside the hive or just outside of it. This is what we call dysentery. But since solid material—not water—is what we see, the cause of dysentery confuses people no end.

For example, here is a statement from the Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium (MAAREC) website: “Dysentery can also be caused by feeding bees anything with a high water content in the early spring.” This is a true statement. But to see why it is true, you have to look at how they qualify their words. They are not saying that water causes dysentery; they are saying too much water fed in the early spring may cause dysentery.

Why is this true? It is true because by early spring the honey bee’s gut is loaded with solids. It is probably approaching its limit of 30 to 40 percent of the bee’s body weight. So if the bee drinks a lot of water, the solids may absorb some of the water like a sponge and push the bee over its 30 to 40 percent-by-weight capacity—sort of like the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Nevertheless, water all by itself does not cause dysentery. This may seem like a subtle point, but if the bee’s gut were empty in early spring (or any other time), the bee could drink quarts of water and not get dysentery.

One final note, although honey bee dysentery is not a disease, it can cause a hive to fail. Colony death may result from stress, diseases promoted by unsanitary conditions, or a breakdown in the internal communication system due to the overpowering odor inside the hive.


While we don't often see watery feces, too much water in the diet may cause a bee's intestine to overload.
While we don’t often see watery feces, too much water in the diet may cause a bee’s intestine to overload. Photo by Debbie Fyda.


  • Very informative, thanks Rusty. Another common misconception seems to be that dysentery indicates nosema. From what I’ve read dysentery can lead to nosema spreading faster but bees can have dysentery but not nosema.

    • Emily,

      That’s exactly right; the presence of dysentery could mean nosema is present or not. You need laboratory analysis—or a good microscope—to tell the difference.

  • Is it reasonable to feed Fumagillin-B as a prophylactic early in the spring and also before bedding down for winter?

    • It is reasonable if you think you have or may develop a problem with Nosema. As with any drug, overuse may cause resistant strains to develop.

  • I see the difference between the two. However, I didn’t see a remedy or real recommendation for a remedy.
    Did I miss it? Or is this just to let beekeepers know that there is a difference between Nosema and Bee Dysentery?

    • The point of the post was to explain that excess solids in the diet, not excess water, causes honey bee dysentery. To prevent honey bee dysentery a beekeeper must not feed bees things with too many solids. The only remedy would be to stop them from eating the things that cause dysentery.

  • I’m following up on the dysentery/nosema thread here. Since I lost a couple of hives to dysentery and buckwheat honey may have been a factor, but the possibility of nosema has not been ruled out. I’ll assume that I shouldn’t give the honey from these two colonies to any other bees I have now, or to new colonies created in the spring. I need to find out whether this honey is a nosema spore source. How do you suggest I do this?
    And by the way, this is/you are a fantastic resource.

    • Teri,

      I had to do some reading and check with a couple sources to verify what I thought about this. But the consensus is that honey, although it may possibly contain some Nosema spp spores, is not considered a problem. The spores are everywhere. You can compare it to the common cold in humans. The virus is everywhere. Contracting the virus is more or less the result of a weakened immune system than the presence or absence of pathogen, since the pathogen is always present. Bees will be exposed to many more spores from infected bees which accidentally make their way into the hive, come in contact with other bees in the field, or leave spores on flowers where they are nectaring. Any spores in the honey will not germinate and reproduce–it is not the right environment for them. If it were me, I would go ahead and move the honey into the next colony without a worry. I don’t know how to test honey for Nosema, but you can send some of your dead bees to a lab for analysis. Check with your state extension service for details.

  • This is good news! When I originally started my search into what had happened w/my bees and had come up with the possibility of nosema, the reading I did led me to believe that I had to destroy the infected equipment. I had a stack of boxes filled with honey and beautiful brood comb waiting by the burn pile for a “burn day”. I am so glad to have waited this out.
    Thanks very much.

  • Hey Rusty,

    After careful consideration I think I see two common events that lead to the death of 8 of my colonies. Dysentry due to pollen substitute mixed in the candy boards and shrews.

    • Jeff,

      Don’t you know you’re supposed to tame your shrews?

      Seriously, don’t leave me hanging. Tell me about shrews. This is all new to me. What did they do?

      About candy boards, I never add pollen substitute until after winter solstice when brood rearing begins. Did you add it earlier, or is the solstice too early for your area?? Really interested.

  • We think we lost a hive this winter to dysentery. Is it ok to harvest the lost hive’s honey? What signs do I look for if it is bad? I poked my finger in one of the comb and it seemed really watery. But it could have just been built up condensation. We seem to have a separate issue with that too.

    • keeweekid,

      Honey bee dysentery is not caused by a pathogen, it is caused by a diet high in solids. In any case, the honey is perfectly safe to eat. The bees don’t cap the honey until it is at the proper moisture level. If the combs were really hot when you poked your finger in, the honey may have seemed runny. Or perhaps you poked your finger in uncapped cells? That would be different. Bring the honey to room temperature and then try again. Also, maybe you can borrow a refractometer and measure the moisture level.

  • Hi, Rusty,

    I lost a hive to dysentery this winter and would like to hear your thoughts on whether feeding the bees solid sugar over the winter could have contributed to their illness. When the winter is very long and very cold, the bees go through more fuel without the opportunity of a cleansing flight. Do you think adding sugar to the hive as extra food was a mistake?

    • Zoe,

      If anything, plain sugar protects against dysentery because it is extremely low in ash. In fact, it’s lower than honey. Ash is the stuff that collects in the honey bee’s gut and causes the dysentery. It’s like eating fiber. For some numbers and an explanation on this see, “Is organic sugar better for bees?

  • Thanks for your reply, Rusty. I read recently in an old-timey source that if the honey hasn’t cured properly by late fall, i.e., too high a water ratio, this can cause dysentery. Your thoughts?

    I just can’t figure out why the dysentery set in. If there is something I did or didn’t do I’d like to know so that I can prevent it from happening again.

    • Zoe,

      I don’t think it’s the uncured honey because, like the post explains, unless their guts are already filled with solids, the water won’t make much difference. People see watery dysentery and think it must be caused by too much water, but that’s just not true.

      My guess for cause would be the type of honey. Some honey, especially darker ones, are much higher in solids than the lighter-colored ones. If the bees eat a lot of honey that is high in solids and have few days for flying, dysentery will set in.

      It probably was nothing you did. Some beekeepers take out the darker honey before winter, but that’s a lot of work for something that may never happen.

  • Hi Rusty,
    I have noticed bee poop on the hive lid and around the hive entrance. I am worried because I saw a honey bee with deformed wings trying to fly outside of the hive. Do you think it could be Nosema? I would like to send samples to a lab but I have no clue where to send them and how much it will cost. I installed a new package of bees last month and have been feeding them sugar syrup with honey bee healthy. I am a new beekeeper so any information would be greatly appreciated.

    • Elisabeth,

      I’m guessing the poop is just from bees that are orienting in the area of the hive. If it’s yellowish (and not dark brown) I wouldn’t worry. Deformed wings and Nosema aren’t normally related. The bee with deformed wings may have been in the package that you received. Deformed-wing virus is usually carried by varroa mites, and the hive your bee came from probably had mites. I think you should do a sugar roll test to see if you need to treat for mites, but I wouldn’t worry too much about Nosema.

      Information about the Sugar Roll Test is here. I can do a Nosema test if you need it, but you probably don’t.

  • Hey Rusty,

    I have a quick question about dysentery. I’ve seen it in my over-wintered hives, but never in summer. I hived a swarm on June 1st. In 2 weeks they drew out 10 medium frames and the queen is laying well with a good brood pattern. Unfortunately they have a SERIOUS dysentery problem. The hive entrance is filthy, the frame tops are stained yellow, and a lot of the bees in the hive have yellow fecal spots on them. As I’ve said, I’ve seen dysentery in spring and it’s always cleared up by itself. I’ve never seen it this time of year, so I’m not sure if I should worry about Nosema, do a blind treatment, or just wait a while and see if it clears up? On a side note, they seem to be pretty aggressive… Not sure if it’s a symptom of the problem, or just the genetics. I don’t know if the swarm was a wild swarm, or if it came from an apiary. The property owner where I got it didn’t know if there were any beeks in the area. Any thoughts? Thanks

    • Well, Matt, my thought after reading your first sentence was, “There is no such thing as a quick question about dysentery.” Turns out, I was right.

      To begin with, remember that honey bee dysentery and Nosema are not the same. Honey bee dysentery is caused by a diet high in solids when the bees cannot get out for cleansing flights. Nosema apis is a microsporidian that causes the bees to defecate uncontrollably. Nosema ceranae is also a microsporidian but it does not produce dysentery-like symptoms.

      One thing is that both honey bee dysentery and Nosema usually produce dark-colored spots, not yellow, and it usually smells really bad. Yellow is usually a sign of healthy bees, but of course they shouldn’t be messing the inside of the hive.

      Nosema apis isn’t as widespread as it used to be. It seems to be getting replaced by Nosema ceranae. But I think I would test for Nosema anyway, just because I don’t know what else it would be causing the problem. If you can’t test yourself, you can send samples to a number of the bee labs. Most will do it for free.

      Other than that, I don’t know what would cause your symptoms. I would like to know what you find out.

  • I occasionally notice a spot or two of what I guess (?) is dysentery on the hive – very infrequently. The landing board, etc is all clean. It’s just that I find a spot or two on the side of the hive, ‘once in a blue moon’. Bees seem fine, so I’m guessing that as long as one is just talking a spot or two on the hive that everything should be okay?

  • Hey, quick question. I am keeping bees in Guatemala right now and the highest quaity sugar is unrefined brown sugar. It’s a hot part of the year so they can be out foraging all day. Would that make it okay to feed them with brown sugar syrup because they are going to be able to poop whenever they want? Or is it still bad for their insides? Even the closest thing to white sugar isn’t that unrefined.

    • Levi,

      I think as long as they are flying it will be okay. The high ash content of brown sugar is considered a problem when bees are confined to the hive. That said, I have no experience with it.

  • I am a brand new beekeeper. I am in the Chicago land area. I just installed a package of bees in my top bar hive on Saturday evening. 3 days ago. I have a window to look in. There are a few streaks of brown in the hive. I know the bees came from California. Should I be concerned at this point? How much is too much for dysentrey? I am feeding sugar water and brood patties now. They do not have any comb. Its a new hive. Weather is still cool here too. There were a few out yesterday. It was low 50s and sunny. The rest were clustered in the corner of the hive. Any suggestions?

    • Heather,

      I wouldn’t worry just yet. As soon as they get out to fly they will probably be fine. Do you have starter strips or something on the bars? Has the queen been released? It is sometimes hard to get them started in a top-bar hive, but starter strips or a bead of wax on the bars really helps. Honey bee dysentery is not a disease but due to a poor diet or confinement. It usually clears when the sun comes out.

  • I’m not a beekeeper, but am thinking about getting started. After reading here, I am left wondering: Why don’t beekeepers give bees two warm days a month to take a short flight to void by bringing them indoors into a cold room and minimally heating the coldroom? Would bees get sick with such a temporary change in temperature? That aside, I wonder if they have any colour preference, floral odor (yes/no), flower size, shape composites vs. tubular…tree vs field flowers, non typical like pine and do we know if they ever collect tree sap?

    • Miro,

      To move hives inside for a couple days a month would be a huge undertaking, perhaps involving a building, a heater, a forklift, lighting, and some other odds and ends. Also, it takes honey bees a while to reorient themselves to their new surroundings. I imagine you would lose quite a few each time you moved them. Better to leave them inside all winter like they do in Canada. As to your last question, “I wonder if they have any colour preference, floral odor (yes/no), flower size, shape composites vs. tubular…tree vs field flowers, non typical like pine and do we know if they ever collect tree sap?” the answer is yes to all.

      • Thanks, I am in Canada and heard of some taking bees indoors and some leaving them outdoors, but not from the keepers themselves…so I asked you. Thanks again.

  • What is the best way to clean hive equipment in spring following winter dysentery before introducing a new package of bees? Thanks.

    • Jolene,

      That depends. If you are sure it was plain dysentery due to a poor winter diet, you can clean the frames as much or as little as you want. I usually scrape off the wooden ware with a hive tool and then use a solution of water and bleach to rub down the wooden surfaces. Just dip a rag in the bleach solution, ring it out, wipe the surfaces, and then let it dry.

      If the bees died of Nosema apis, you can read cleaning guidelines in this post: How to clean up from Nosema apis.

  • Hi Rusty …. what is your opinion on the pattie comment? If the bees get to the pattie too soon will it cause dysentery? I think that is what is killing my bees this winter, so far, the hives that have eaten the pattie already are suffering, whereas the ones not in the candy board yet, are not. The patties were different this year. Even with lots of honey in some of the hives, they are working the candy board and patties. We still have two or three months to go. Any suggestions or comments would be helpful. Sent you some pics of the hive to see the mess. I didn’t have this problem previous years when the patties were different. I think in the future, patties won’t be added until late Jan. or Early Feb. Caution: don’t buy the yellow patties, stick with the dark brown ones.

    • Debbie,

      Yes, pollen substitutes, or even regular pollen, can cause honey bee dysentery because they contain lots of indigestible solids. For that reason, it is often best to wait until late winter before you add them to the hive, especially if it’s really cold. If it’s warm enough to fly occasionally, patties are not much of a problem. But in bitter cold with few flying days, it’s best to wait. Personally, I don’t think the color of the patties is causing the problem; I think the problem with dysentery is caused by the much colder temperatures this winter as compared to other winters.

  • Hi Rusty,

    Thanks for all the knowledge you share on this site. It has been a great resource for me!
    Would you be able to speak about what action to take if you know you have a hive that has dystentery now in the winter? I have scraped out the bottom of the hive. The cluster is small and close to the top of the hive. I have given them sugar cakes with honey b healthy mixed in.
    I am in Kitchener, ON.

    • Hi Gini,

      If they have dysentery and not Nosema, what they need is a warm day so they can fly outside. There is not much you can do yourself. The sugar cakes help because sugar is low in fiber and nutrients that collect in the intestines.

  • Thanks. The bee place gave me the Super DFM powder, you mix it with some powdered sugar and then sprinkle it on the top bars. She said that it might help, but it was the wrong time to treat with the Fumigillin, which I didn’t want to do anyway. I will see what happens. She said if they ate the powder this weekend when it was warmer out that it might help their gut. Going to be a long winter worrying about these little brats! I don’t know why I just didn’t put them in the bedroom and be done with it ! (lol).

  • Hello Rusty,

    I had been told that honey bee dysentery could be caused by feeding sugar syrup on the hive for too long i.e. after the bees had finished taking it down as winter feed. I understood that it was due to bees consuming fermented stores. Is this not the case?

    I had also been told to put thymol solution in with the syrup to help prevent it. Do you have any references for for further reading on the subject?

    Thank you

    • Ben,

      Many people have their wires crossed on these issues. A good beekeeping book, such as the latest edition of The Hive and Honey Bee, can go along way to dispelling all the rumors. Dysentery is caused by an accumulation of undigested material called ash. Sugar syrup is extremely low in ash, much lower than honey. Sugar is the best winter feed for that reason, although when it’s very cold, solid sugar works better than liquid and it won’t ferment.

      Fermented syrup contain alcohol. Alcohol can cause problems for both bees and humans, but diarrhea isn’t one of them. If I was worried about syrup fermenting, I would just add a little bleach (just like what is in city water supplies). On the other hand, why would you have syrup on a hive that the bees couldn’t use due to the cold? Just feed them hard sugar and all the problems go away.

  • If what you’re saying is true (and I’m sure it is) – are you saying bees hang on to their waste for months at a time until they reach this 30-40% level, then hit the sky for a trip to the outhouse? And is this done according to the individual’s necessity, or, do they all hang on until some communally appointed time and simultaneously take flight for a concerted dumping session?

    I ask because since we began our honeybee expedition years ago and since our apiary is next to our backyard (and my sensitive hearing) we’ve been fortunate enough to hear and catch 90 plus % of our swarms. There’s always been what my wife first called, “false alarm” flights, when the bees would take to the air, they’ll seemingly pick a location in one of the ceder trees we’ve purposely nurtured in the apiary, and sometimes they’ll “partially” coagulate on a ceder and act like they’re swarming, but the bulk remain uncoordinated covering an acre or more of seemingly confused flight and after about 30-40 minutes, return to the hive without swarming.

    However, she eventually began calling them, “trial runs” because we realized, inevitably, within 24-48 hours of one of these confused flights, they do indeed eventually swarm and go to the same location on the same tree that (some of them) went to during the previous day’s flight.
    I wasn’t satisfied with that, and began looking for other reasons to these crazy (pre-swarm) flights.

    I’ve contemplated whether or not the queen could be conducting some sort of census, (because they always occur at dawn or just before dusk when most of the bees will be home) however, the results of such a head count wouldn’t change anything since they occur a day before the swarm and by then she’d already instructed the creation of replacement queens . . . unless she’s just after a more precise final count right before the swarm? Either way, despite we can’t find many others noticing this behavior (we’ve always chalked it up to people just not being around when it happens so they’re unaware of it) – and given this has been a constant routine for nigh two decades, I’m convinced there’s something to my wife’s idea and your information here.

    I guess it’s the timing of these “confused flights” with the next day swarms that have me questioning if what you’re saying is related?
    Maybe there’s “bee-sensible” reasons for the hive to communally unload it’s waste pre-swarming – for both, those taking flight, and the newly reduced in population hive staying behind? It wouldn’t be wise for a newly located hive to go out in their new territory and spread the smell of a new bear treat in the area? But, it also wouldn’t be prudent for a newly cut in half hive to leave en-mass to carry out one of these necessary flights either. I don’t know, sorry to ramble on, it’s been a long looked for mystery that would be fun to understand and you’ve shed some new speculation to the puzzle with this information.

    • Sidney,

      Bees don’t hold their waste in times when they can fly, only when they are confined for the winter. So bees in swarming mode are not holding waste. In winter, the individual bees look for a time when they can fly out and right back. They do not do this together.

      What you call practice swarms are usually caused by the queen not following with the swarm. If the queen can’t make it for some reason, the swarm goes back home. It can’t survive without a queen, so there’s no point in continuing.

      Swarms use temporary landing places that other swarms have used because they are attracted to the pheromones.

  • Hi Rusty,

    Great thread, I always lean on you for facts when I’m blowing in the wind on a subject. Thanks for keeping this up.

    I’m wondering if you’ve heard of or tried this product for treating dysentery? I’m going to winter an indoor, observation hive and want to help them keep their tummies in order; our winters are about 6 months! Mind you we do get Chinooks but that’s never a guarantee the bees will be able to fly.


    • Nichol,

      No, I have not tried Nozevit. I don’t see how it would be useful for treating dysentery since dysentery is caused by too many solids in the diet while the bees are confined. Eating more will not get rid of the solids. If you are worried about them contracting dysentery during the winter, make sure their honey stores are light in color. If not, exchange some of the dark-colored honey with sugar syrup.

  • I currently have a live hive with Nosema or dysentery, I am not sure which but it is due to ice forming on an outside wall of the hive. This is late March in Canada. It is 10 degrees Celsius during the day and freezing at night. This hive was a double. There are a lot of dead bees in the hive but still a decent cluster of live bees. Can I move the live bees to a clean single? Is there any way to save them? The hive doesn’t smell yet but it is pretty cool here.

    • Yvette,

      Well, ice on the outside of the hive wall is not good, but it doesn’t cause dysentery or Nosema. Nosema is a disease caused by a microsporidian (a type of fungus that lives in the bee gut). Dysentery is caused by too many solids in the intestinal tract of the bees when they have do way to go outside and defecate.

      Yes, you can move the frames into a single, but that’s the kind of thing I wouldn’t do in really cold weather. The trouble is, if there is brood in those frames, you will just end up moving the soiled frames into a clean box. Lots of bees is a good sign, and they may end up cleaning the mess themselves as soon as the weather warms. It’s a matter of degree. They may recover just fine, or not, but I wouldn’t write them off yet.

  • Use DMF powder, one part DMF powder to two parts powdered sugar, sprinkle on the top bars near the cluster, not the bees, this will help with dysentery. I had this happen to me and now in February I sprinkle this on the hives that are soiling and it appears to help them. Not always successful because you don’t know what the issue actually is, but it helps the bee gut and has helped several of mine that were showing signs of dysentery. Hopefully the weather will change and they can get outside. It’s almost April and things will be changing soon. It looks like some warmth is coming our way. I usually burn the frames that are soiled badly as I have found to leave them sometimes causes that hive to have issues again. If the bees are in the bottom box and not the top, you can always remove that second box quickly, put in a few sugar patties with a shim and a moisture box on top and that will help immensely in keeping a small cluster warm. See Rusty’s post on moisture boxes and feeding sugar patties in the mist of winter. They are an excellent source of warmth for the smaller hives. Try to do this on a day that is not too cold out. Just be super fast. Maybe have a helper. One takes off, the other puts on. Don’t disturb the cluster. Or, you can take the box w/the bees in it, if you are positive that they are all together on them few frames, put on a new bottom and get that thing closed up making sure that the entrance is reduced to about two bee spaces to keep that warmth inside the hive. Try the moisture box it works wonders. Good luck! And thank Rusty for all the good ideas she has posted in the past. Great teacher !!!!!!!!!

  • Hi Rusty,

    I think I may have had this issue with my hive. The whole hive didn’t die, but I’d say about 70% or so didn’t make it. I did see brown spots on some of my frames inside the hive. Some of this is on honey frames, so do I need to clean the frames before extracting honey? I’m only in my second year, so this might be a silly question. Thanks!

  • Hi Rusty,

    I am a brand new Utah beekeeper, and it’s my first winter with bees. The front of my hive has lots of spots on it right now (looks like dysentery), and the entrance is showing a bit of clutter too. Should I clean that off? Or do I just let the bees do their thing? We have had a very mild and dry winter so far, so I think they have had plenty of opportunity to do cleansing flights… yet there are a lot of spots. Any suggestions?


    • Linda,

      When the bees do cleansing flights in winter, they don’t go far from home. They often just circle above the hive and then back in, so feces on the hives is not unusual. Usually, the rain or snow washes it away. If you don’t want to see it, you can clean the hive with a damp rag.

  • Rusty,

    Thanks for all the research you do into these questions. It is VERY helpful for us newbees. I unfortunately had my first colony die. Just found out today and have been cleaning and trying to figure out what I did wrong. I feel as though I had a bad moisture problem, so I built and put on a moisture quilt which I was still trying to perfect. I feel as though I had a heavy varroa mite load as well going into winter even though I treated with MAQS in the late summer-fall time frame, which is my fault for not treating in say November/December time frame with some “wood bleach” or something like that on top of the MAQS. I’m really unsure and would appreciate your feedback when you have time. Also, I have taken out the frames of honey and comb and am confused about what to do with them because they have excrement all over?

    • Jerrett,

      I really cannot diagnose from afar, but a couple of things occur to me. First, you should do mite counts both before and after treatment so you know whether the treatment was effective. The mite meds don’t always work as well as we hope, but unless you count, you don’t really know. Something made you suspect you still had mites, so maybe you did. Many beekeepers are treating multiple times per year which, unfortunately, can be necessary.

      If the frames had excrement on them, it could be that the bees had a case of Nosema ceranae. It’s possible it was just dysentery, but again, unless you test, you really don’t know. If you don’t have or don’t want a microscope, there may be someone in your bee club that can help with nosema testing in the future.

      The question about cleaning frames is tricky because normally I would say to get rid of the frames if the bees had nosema, but let next year’s bees clean up the mess if it was dysentery. But lately, I’ve heard bee clubs recommending that beekeepers not worry about Nosema feces because a strong colony will not be adversely affected. So it seems like standard advice is changing, but I don’t know if the recent advice is good or not. I’ve been trying to find out why the change, but so far, I don’t have a good answer.

      If the excrement is restricted to just the wooden parts of the frame, you can scrape it off and then clean the wood with bleach or alcohol. I’ve done that before with good results. Then take a hive tool and cut away any comb with feces on it. Sometimes you can save a few frames doing it this way, sometimes not.

      You’re not the only one confused. These are tough decisions to make.

  • Rusty,

    My apologies I realized I forgot to tell you, I live in eastern Washington where the humidity is around 60-90% depending on weather.

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