Unknown Brood Damage

Posted 4/17/2013

This blog was changed from the original post. The title has changed from Pesticide brood Kill to Unknown Brood Damage. This change was in response to the comments I have received both on this blog and by emails, I want to clarify a few of my comments. First, I regret the original title of the blog as correctly noted; I had no concrete evidence that it was a pesticide brood kill. No pesticide analysis was done on the pollen or bees because, as I mentioned in the comments section, this beekeeper knew what was being sprayed, when it was being sprayed and the bees consistently degraded in this area, year after year. I have provided clear examples in the photos below of other suspected diseases and I think they clearly show that this was probably not a brood disease, nor “BPMS or as it has more recently been termed Idiopathic Brood Disease Syndrome (IDBS).”

I have seen this type of brood damage only once in my career and it was a documented case of pesticide brood damage in Hawaii. We do strive to be transparent and for these blogs to generate discussion so we are going to keep this post up and I hope you find the added photos and the explanations on those photos helpful.

Sunflower Field in California.

Sunflower Field in California.

It’s not every day that you get to see chemical damage on a frame of brood in a honey bee colony. When you look at chemical damage in a hive it may look similar to other brood diseases but the symptoms just don’t add up to anything and you can clearly tell something is wrong with the brood. In this case a beekeeper contacted us and asked us to go out and look at colonies stationed in sunflowers for two weeks or more. There were also other crops around like vine seed and cotton. It was noted that the cotton in the area was sprayed and was still being sprayed with the insecticide “Belay”; however,the beekeeper did not notice the bees working the cotton. Belay is a third generation neonicotinoid used as a broad spectrum insecticide containing the active ingredient Clothianidin. It is used to treat for leafhoppers, beetles, plant bugs, aphids and Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSM.) We then went out to inspect the colonies. They appeared to be good shape collecting pollen and nectar from the sunflowers and surrounding flowers. In one colony we found some chemical damage. I have included the images below from the chemical damage on the brood frames. I think chemicals caused these brood symptoms because it is not a like a typical disease or virus from my experience. I have included images of other diseases this might be confused for first to compare.

There are two arrows, the top arrow points to a bee with K-Wing, and the bottom arrow points to a worker removing a dead larvae from a cell.

There are two arrows, the top arrow points to a bee with K-Wing, and the bottom arrow points to a worker removing a dead larvae from a cell.

There are some broken down larvae and some scale in the cells.  Note there are some healthy larvae but the pattern is very spotty.

There are some broken down larvae and some scale in the cells. Note there are some healthy larvae but the pattern is very spotty.

In this image there are more chewed down larvae and some scale.

In this image there are more chewed down larvae and some scale.

Slightly to the right in the center there is a cell that I first though was AFB, but with further assesment AFB was ruled out.

Slightly to the right in the center there is a cell that I first thought was AFB, but with further assesment AFB was ruled out.

AFB brown larvae

“Coffee” brown larvae. Here is a look at AFB to compare.

In this image you can see some dead larvae and lots of scale.

In this image you can see some dead larvae and lots of scale.

This is a close up of the cell that looked like AFB, AFB is a coffee brown unlike this larvae.  Also examine the other larvae that have turned to a scale.

This is a close up of the cell that looked like AFB, AFB is a coffee brown unlike this larvae. Also examine the other larvae that have turned to a scale.

Posted 4/17/2013

Here are the reasons I think this is not a typical disease and a chemical issue. I will start with American Foulbrood. There are no perforations in sealed brood, larvae did not rope, no odor, no concave sealed cells, no proboscis from a pupa at the top of the cells. Also, the scale is wrong, scales from AFB adhere strongly to the lower sides of the cell. Now for EFB, symptoms not similar, scale does not match EFB scale which is easy to remove. With BPMS there is a population reduction, these hives were in good shape. Also the varroa levels were low. For the remaining 3 photos I put up, there were no symptoms of those problems. I think these photos help compare the difference, if someone has some other ideas please comment.

BPMS or  bee parasitic mite syndrome is different than EFB and can easily be confused. I think it is possible for both of these problems to occur at the same time.

BPMS or bee parasitic mite syndrome.

This photo is cropped from the image above.  It shows BPMS or bee parasitic mite syndrome, I will describe each lettered arrow. A.  Varroa mite on larvae, B.  This pupa was uncapped and a mite was detected so the bees started to cannibalize the head and will eventually remove the pupa, C.  There are 2 varroa mites on a larva, D.  This is similar to B.  The bees have chewed down a larvae or pupa because they detected a mite, E.  Note the absence of eggs and larvae; the colony is unable to rear healthy brood, F.  A varroa mite on a larva in a cell, G.  Here you see another mite on a larvae in the cell

This photo is cropped from the image above. It shows BPMS or bee parasitic mite syndrome, I will describe each lettered arrow. A. Varroa mite on larvae, B. This pupa was uncapped and a mite was detected so the bees started to cannibalize the head and will eventually remove the pupa, C. There are 2 varroa mites on a larva, D. This is similar to B. The bees have chewed down a larvae or pupa because they detected a mite, E. Note the absence of eggs and larvae; the colony is unable to rear healthy brood, F. A varroa mite on a larva in a cell, G. Here you see another mite on a larvae in the cell

 Bee parasitic mite syndrome (BPMS)  Here you see a chewed down larvae, you will see this often with BPMS.  This is a sign of mite sin hygienic colonies.  This image was also from the original above.

Bee parasitic mite syndrome (BPMS) Here you see a chewed down larvae, you will see this often with BPMS. This is a sign of mite sin hygienic colonies. This image was also from the original above.

European Foulbrood (EFB)

European Foulbrood (EFB)

European Foulbrood (EFB)
European Foulbrood (EFB)

European Foulbrood (EFB)

American Foulbrood (AFB)

American Foulbrood (AFB)

American Foulbrood (AFB)

American Foulbrood (AFB)

American Foulbrood (AFB) Deadout.

American Foulbrood (AFB) Deadout.

Sacrbood Virus (SBV)

Sacbrood Virus (SBV) with a varroa mite that crawled out of another cell.

Sacbrood Virus (SBV)

Sacbrood Virus (SBV)

Chalkbrood

Chalkbrood

Chalkbrood

Chalkbrood

Bald Brood

Bald Brood

Closer view of the sunflowers.

Closer view of the sunflowers.

  • Brian Deckman

    I have seen this in my colonies. I thought it to be AFB, but it did not fit. thank you for publishing this, I can now feel a bit better, ?knowing? it is being caused by pesticides.

  • kc

    How do you know for a fact that this is chemical damage and not some unidentified disease? seems like a big leap – without some sort of testing/confirmation of the chemical to be in the hive.

  • http://peterloringborst.com Peter Borst

    Greetings
    I was under the impression that the guiding principle of BeeInformed.Org was to be informed. This writer speculates some sort of relationship between cotton spraying even though “the beekeeper did not notice the bees working the cotton”.

    Then he states plainly: “I am not sure what chemical caused these brood symptoms.” He produces no evidence that *any* chemical produced the symptoms & reported no test results.

    Yet he declares: “Insecticide Brood Damage”. On what basis? “not a typical disease or virus from my experience.” Maybe the material should have been handled by someone with more experience.

  • Bill

    This makes total sense from what I have seen . What facts can you show everyone to positively prove this wrong. I am in agreement with the gentleman in this blog.

    • Rob Snyder

      I changed the title since I am not 100% sure that Belay was the problem here. But anyways…The beekeeper wanted to monitor these hives. The beekeeper knew the hives went downhill after being in sunflowers every year(same area). They wanted to see how much the populations went down after they were in the sunflowers. Our results showed that the colonies did go down in population. I used that information, the photos and the other pieces of the puzzle to come up with my conclusion. The beekeeper did not want to take pesticide samples (which cost about 400$ for a screening of 192 pesticides). I have also seen similar symptoms in other hives.. If I am wrong I am wrong but this is what I saw in the field and this is what I think was happening from the information given.

      • Bill

        I agree 100% Rob , everyone need’s to work together. Keep up the good work and informative blogs.

  • Ottavio Forte

    With so many photographs offered in this blog, may be Peter Borst should provide his own analysis as a service to the BeeInformed readers, since Rob Snyder, in his opinion, did not do it.
    I will keep these photos as a reference to analyze my own brood problems. These blogs are not scientifically controlled analyses, and are not only for the expert.
    Peter Borst, I challenge you to improve the analysis, now that you have been critical.

  • http://None Jack Hengst

    Hey Rob,

    I am having some issues in a yard. I talked Russel Hetikam, he said it looked like a pesticide wipe out. After reading this blog, it may be EFB, or something else. I would like to talk to you about this and maybe do some sampling. I talked to you after the Almond Blossom Run..

  • Marvin Djukic

    Hey Robert!
    I’d like to ask you, if it is possible to use some of your EFB- (& AFB-) pictures in an article I write for a German honey bee news magazine.
    For the beekeepers in Germany, it is really difficult to identify the EFB. It’s a minor disease, and it’s not notifiable. But I think it is important to explain the differences between AFB and EFB, and you definitely took the best pictures of EFB-infections.
    Please reply!! Thanks a lot!!
    Marvin

  • robin-m

    I think the only way you could know for sure is by sending samples to the bee lab in Maryland. Were any samples sent?