Spring in California 2014

The most opportune time for honey bee colonies in most areas of the U.S. is during spring build-up. The surplus of pollen and nectar that usually accompanies spring allows a growing colony to create a surplus of pollen and honey. It is also a time of year where the colony is trying to work through its kinks and get the colonies population dynamics under control as far as nurse bee to worker ratio. This ratio is crucial for hive ventilation and keeping moisture and bacteria from infiltrating the hive and causing problems. Some diseases that arise during this opportunistic time period are Chalkbrood, AFB, EFB and PMS. It is important to recognize these problems early as it may save your honey crop and the headache of trying to support the colony through the summer.

Pollen Stores from Yuba City, CA

Pollen Stores from Yuba City, CA

Cherry Blossom's in an orchard near Stockton, CA

Cherry Blossom’s in an orchard near Stockton, CA

Cherry Tree Orchard near Stockton, CA

Cherry Tree Orchard near Stockton, CA

Other problems during this time include overcrowding/swarming or queen supercedure. A good indicator that a colony is going to swarm is the sudden increase in drone cells. This may be in the form of bridge comb or general drone laying production. It is best to treat colonies in early spring for varroa mites before the colony starts to produce excess drone cells. Once you start seeing a lot of drones it’s a good time to keep your eye out for swarm cells. These cells are a great way to split a colony and create more colonies from existing ones. You can also induce swarming by overcrowding the bees and feeding them pollen and thick sugar syrup.

Emergcency Replacement Cells.

Emergcency Replacement Cells.

Supercedure Cells.

Supercedure Cells.

Feral colony nesting in a tree on the South Rim Trail in Upper Bidwell Park in Chico, CA

Feral colony nesting in a tree on the South Rim Trail in Upper Bidwell Park in Chico, CA

These are all common occurrences during the spring, but the main reason I wanted to write this blog was to share some of the things that I have seen in the field and create an opportunity for you to recognize these symptoms early on. I hope that by viewing these images, you will be able to identify possible disease or pest and seek the appropriate actions in controlling them. Below are images from this spring, the good, the bad and the ugly!!

Canabalism of sealed brood.

Canabalism of sealed brood.

Alfalfa field.

Alfalfa field.

Pollen stores from Glenn, CA

Pollen stores from Glenn, CA

Bald Brood

Bald Brood-Note that the wax moth larvae is usually under the cappings that are very light with a majority of the wax chewed down to the cocoon(this is what gives it the white appearance).

Bald Brood-Note that the wax moth larvae is usually under the cappings that are very light with a majority of the wax chewed down to the cocoon(this is what gives it the white appearance).

Bald Brood- Here you can see where I dug the larvae out of the sealed brood.

Bald Brood- Here you can see where I dug the larvae out of the sealed brood.

Varroa

Varroa Mite on a newly emerged drone.

Varroa Mite on newly emerged drone.

Chalk Brood

Early stage of Chalkbrood.

Early stage of Chalkbrood.

Chalk Brood on a frame in the center of the brood nest.

Chalk Brood on a frame in the center of the brood nest.

EFB

A chewed down sick larvae being removed and another contorted larvae displaying a classic EFB symptom.

A chewed down sick larvae being removed and another contorted larvae displaying a classic EFB symptom.

"Stomach Ache Position"- Contorted Larave starved from Melissococcus plutonius (EFB).

“Stomach Ache Position”- Contorted Larave starved from Melissococcus plutonius (EFB).

Multiple EFB symptoms:  Scale, Contorted Larve, Defined Trachea, chewed down sick larvae.

Multiple EFB symptoms: Scale, Contorted Larve, Defined Trachea, chewed down sick larvae.

Multiple EFB symptoms:  Deflated larvae with defined tracheal system, Scale sunken to the bottom of the cell.

Multiple EFB symptoms: Deflated larvae with defined tracheal system, Scale sunken to the bottom of the cell.

Pollen Stores from Hamilton City, CA.

Pollen Stores from Hamilton City, CA.

Unknown

Unknown Chemical Damage-awaiting pollen analysis.

Unknown Chemical Damage-awaiting pollen analysis.

Unknown Chemical Damage.

Unknown Chemical Damage.

Written By: Rob Snyder

Rob Snyder has written 62 post in this blog.

I currently work out of the Butte County Cooperative Extension in Oroville, CA as a Crop Protection Agent. I received my B.S. in biology from Delaware Valley College, PA. There I attained a majority of my entomological knowledge from Dr. Chris Tipping and Dr. Robert Berthold. After graduation, I was an apiary inspector for 2 years at the Department of Agriculture in Pennsylvania. In my third year there, I still inspected some colonies but I mainly focused on The Pennsylvania Native Bee Survey (PANBS) where I pinned, labeled, entered data and identified native bees to genus species. Leo Donavall assisted me in learning the basics on positive Identifications of the native bees. Around the same time I began working on coordinating kit construction and distribution for the APHIS National Honey Bee Survey. I was also fortunate to conduct many of these surveys with fellow co-worker Mike Andree and Nathan Rice of USDA/ARS throughout California. All of these experiences have led me to where I am today, working to assist beekeepers in maintaining genetic diverse colonies resistant to parasites while reducing the use of chemical treatments in colonies. The BIP Diagnostic Lab at the University of MD is in an integral part of this process by generating reports in which we can track change and report to beekeepers vital information in a timely manner which may influence their treatment decisions.

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