Centaurea stoebe and Pollinators (Part 3)

In the previous two blogs, I have talked about the invasive plant “Spotted Knapweed.” Centaurea stoebe is native to Europe and was introduced into the United States in the late 1800s through contaminated seed. Spotted knapweed is considered by some a nuisance because it displaces native plants and forage for livestock. The plant releases toxins which degrade livestock growth when foraged on. To insects and beekeepers this plant is beneficial by producing nectar and pollen sources. It can produce 1000 or more seeds per plant. These seeds can remain viable for several years in soil and may only show up a few years after introduction.…

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Non-native bees and invasive plant species. (Part 2)

In the last blog, I talked about the invasive plant “Spotted Knapweed.” This plant is unique because it supports several oligolectic bee species, which means that the bees visit (for pollen and nectar) very specific host plant species. Lithurgus chrysurus, or the Mediterranean wood boring bee, is one of them (see previous blog). Another bee that feeds on this Centaurea species is Megachile apicalis, more commonly known as a leaf-cutter bee. This rare non-native species, like the L. chrysurus, is from the Mediterranean region. I have become familiar with both bees from collecting in my hometown in PA for the past 3 summers. To identify…

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Invasive plants supporting invasive bees

  I have been collecting insects since 2005 and I collected almost anything unique to the eye. A majority of my collection was Coleoptera and Hymenoptera. In 2008, I started collecting native bees when I was using bowl traps for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. My collecting was concentrated in Montgomery, Chester and Lehigh County. Around this time the department was working on locating an invasive species by the name of Lithurgus chrysurus or the Mediterranean wood boring bee. The females cause damage to wood structures by burrowing into wood to nest. Overwintering of this bee occurs as prepupae inside a cocoon and they are…

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Modified Hive Tool

Normal Hive tool functions 1. Dislodge Frames 2. Separate Hive Bodies and frames 3. Cut: weeds, vines, plant material, packaging tape, newspaper, pollen patty, taste honey, open treatment packaging, slit zip lock bags (winter feeding). Heat hive tool with smoker to cut out queen cells. 4. Scrape: Top bars, bottom boards, telescoping top covers, inner covers, and stingers. This is important for hive hygiene: Remove burr comb and excess propolis to maintain clean hives. 5. Push: Down frames, smoker fuel and crush Small Hive beetles. 6. Lift: Frames out of the hive, sugar cans out of packages, remove staples, remove nails, clean foundation out of…

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SBV or Sacbrood Virus

In 2005 I started keeping bees. I never saw any disease or virus in my hives until the 2008/2009 season. The first disease I noted in the summer of 2008 was DWV, which is an acronym for Deformed Wing Virus. In the spring of 2009, I found another virus…Sac Brood Virus or SBV. During an inspecting of one hive in early May, I recognized a problem when I saw capped cells that were perforated and had jagged edges. Inside the cells were strange uncapped larvae, which looked like they had shrunken heads. Once the larvae is infected with the virus, it will die and eventually…

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Chalkbrood

When I started inspecting for honey bee diseases, the first and most prevalent disease I found was chalkbrood. I first observed this disease a few weeks into the spring while inspecting a few colonies. I had seen the disease on several other occasions, so it was very easy to identify by the hard “chalk-like” mummies inside the cells. As the season progressed, I learned something from the bees and what they do when the colony has chalkbrood. The nurse bees will drag white, black and other different colored infected larvae out of the hive. These “chalk-like” mummies can be found around and in front of…

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EFB

The first time I encountered this notable disease was in 2005. My professor at the time had a frozen frame with European Foulbrood. He held up the frame and asked what we saw wrong with it. The first thing I noticed was the shotgun brood pattern. I looked closely and observed contorted/twisted larvae. The symptom is caused by the bacteria Melissococcus plutonius. The larva dies before the cell is sealed because the bacteria out-compete the larvae for the food. The images below demonstrate symptoms I first noted. The next time I saw this unique disease was the summer of 2008. A beekeeper called with concern,…

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What is that Smell?…American Foulbrood!

Three summers ago I was hired as a Pennsylvania Apiary Inspector. When I started this job I thought back to my mentor Dr. Robert Berthold. He taught us bee diseases and pest by showing slides and using key descriptive words. This inspired me to start photographing various diseases and pest found inside and outside of the hive. Over the next few weeks I will share my experience with some of these diseases and pest. I chose American Foulbrood (AFB) first since it’s the most notable brood disease. So I first thought to myself…How does AFB spread? America Foulbrood is introduced to the hive by drifting…

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Completion of the National Honey Bee Survey Kits…Finally!!

After months of hard work and dedication from our Penn State University team, all of the 875 kits for the National Honey Bee Disease Survey have been boxed and are ready to be shipped out to 33 states. We did encounter some problems in trying to obtain supplies and equipment for sample kits. Most were due to shipping issues or because stores ran out of needed supplies. But finally, the kits are finished and will be transported to the USDA Bee Research Lab. Here they will be distributed to various states involved in the national survey. There is a bottle of champagne in this gigapan…

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