Variable Efficacy of Mite Treatments?

Variable efficacy of mite treatments has been a constant battle for beekeepers in the past 28 years. However, there are some things we can do in the colony to increase a treatment’s efficacy. Many treatments available to beekeepers are spread through the hive by the bees and also by the bees fanning and ventilating the hive. This ventilation is a crucial part of the hive as a whole since pheromones are spread through the hive via ventilation and traffic from worker, queen and drone bees. Through my experience, and especially over the past 8 years, I have noticed many different types of beekeepers: there are…

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Alfalfa Leafcutter Bee (Megachile rotundata)

Megachile rotundata (or the alfalfa leafcutter bee) is a species native to Eurasia that was introduced into the United States after the 1930’s because of a drop in seed production. This bee was brought into the US to increase pollination yields of Alfalfa for seed because honey bees are not the best pollinators of the crop. M. rotundata was also introduced to New Zealand (1971) and Australia (1987) for the same reasons. This solitary species is now widespread across the United States with many feral populations. Alfalfa has a tripping mechanism that triggers the stamen (pollen reproductive organ) to strike the pollinator enabling pollen transfer…

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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…

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2013 Honey Extraction in Oroville, CA

Here is a video I put together a few months ago from a honey extraction. As you can see from the footage, I did not have the best set-up but still was able to extract with the tools available. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlF-_KwSEr0

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European Foulbrood (EFB)

EFB is often found when nectar flows are sporadic or there is an insufficient number of nurse bees to attend brood. How does EFB spread? European Foulbrood (Melissococcus plutonius) is transmitted when the bacteria become mixed with the bee bread, nectar or diluted honey, and then fed to young larvae. The bacteria then replicate in the larvae mid-gut, killing the larvae within 4-5 days. This causes the larvae to die before sealed in most cases. When the larvae dies it is left in a “stomach-ache” position making it look contorted or twisted in the cell. If the larvae are fed a small amount of the…

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BQCV (Black Queen Cell Virus)

So what is a virus? A virus is an infectious agent that parasitizes a host cell to replicate. Viruses can cause clinical symptoms, larvae death, or no symptoms at all. BQCV is caused by a virus in the family Dicistroviridae. BQCV is in the genus Cripavirus, which is different from other viruses like Acute Bee Paralysis Virus (ABPV), Israeli Acute Bee Paralysis (IAPV) and Kashmir Bee Virus (KBV) in the genus Aparavirus. Dicistroviruses infect many common insects like ants, bees, flies, leafhoppers, and aphids. The queen production industry is more likely to see this virus (hence its name) but it is still found in smaller…

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Chalkbrood

Chalkbrood (Ascosphaera apis) is typically observed during the spring but symptoms can be seen throughout the year. Chalkbrood contaminates larvae when the spores are mixed with brood food. The fungus will outcompete larvae for food and eventually turn the larvae into a “chalk-like” mummy. The color of chalkbrood ranges from white to grey then starts to turn black-this is when the fungus is producing fruiting bodies. This is the most infectious stage of chalkbrood. The black looking mummies are often what you see outside on the entrance board or in front of the hive. At this point these mummies can spread spores to other colonies…

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Sacbrood Virus (SBV)

SBV or Sacbrood Virus (Morator aetatulas) often appears during spring or colony buildup and causes larval death. The pupa fails to pupate and has a “shrunken head” appearance. When you see perforations in the sealed brood with the infected larvae inside, the perforation is usually choppy or jagged indicating a problem. If the SBV pupa is totally open, the capping has been completely removed by bees and the pupa is most likely greyish-yellow to brown and starting to dry out. When removed the pupa looks similar to a slipper or canoe. Infected adult bees will have decreased life spans. Symptoms: • Perforated sealed brood, pupa…

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American Foulbrood (AFB)

How does AFB spread? American Foulbrood (Paenibacillus larvae) is introduced to the hive by drifting bees from nearby colonies, infected equipment/tools, beekeepers and robbing. The infection begins when spores enter the hive, and then food contaminated by spores is fed to the larvae by nurse bees. Once spores are in the midgut the bacteria take over using the larvae as a source of nourishment. After the cells are sealed, death occurs. If death occurs while in the pupal stage, there may be a protruding tongue present. When there is a serious infection you can notice moisture on sealed brood as they start to sink. Sunken…

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Parasitic Mite Syndrome (PMS)

PMS or Parasitic Mite Syndrome is a condition that causes a honey bee colony to deteriorate and eventually dwindle away and die. There has not yet been a pathogen detected which causes the brood symptoms that appear with this syndrome. However there are always varroa mites present with this syndrome. The brood symptoms look similar to other diseases but the larvae don’t rope. Colonies with PMS will show symptoms of white larvae that are chewed or pecked down by workers. Larvae may appear sunken to the side of the cell and may show symptoms of white with some debris at the posterior end. Pupa will…

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