Today, when Robb and I inspected the Elizabeth Taylor hive, things looked wrong.
The texture of the comb was strange, and we saw pinholes in the cappings on the brood comb.
We have no idea what this material on the bottom of this frame is. It looks a bit like some of the propolis (plant based glues the bees create) that we see in other parts of the hive. But what are the bees doing?
Here are more of the "pin holes." Also, the capped brood is scattered all over a mostly empty field of wax cells. Ideally, capped brood should be all clumped together.
More of the same.
It looks like there are dead pupae in some of these cells.
We're really concerned that this hive may have been infected with American Foul Brood. This is a very serious disease of the hive, and we need to find out what California law says we have to do. Some states require that beekeepers burn infected colonies. Some mandate treatment. Our internet searches offer no clues about what the state of California requires us to do.
The best option seems to be to remove and destroy all the wax and brood, scorch the insides of all of the hive boxes, and then move all the adult bees into a disinfected hive with all new frames. This sounds simple, but it's going to be upsetting, disgusting and expensive. Since adult bees are not affected by this disease, we'll "only" have to kill all the developing bees.
I'm not happy about all this carnage.
Further reading suggests that we may be dealing with a varroa mite infestation. Apparently, pinholes in the brood capping show up in both cases.
Folks who got some honey from us, don't worry! Honey from hives with American Foul Brood is not dangerous to humans.