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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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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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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Nosema. This gut fungus is still a mystery to me. The more I sample, the less it seems to make sense. I take samples for Nosema, analyze them, and provide the results to the beekeeper. The idea is to provide hopefully useful information to help with treatment decisions or decisions on choosing breeder. However, when I provide the beekeeper with the results, I do not know what to tell them. Nosema levels just don’t seem to correlate with colony health: huge and healthy colonies can have 30 million spores per bee. I don’t even know what levels are considered to be high or potentially damaging. Or even if…

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Colletes inaequalis congregation area

This is a large congregation of Colletes inaequalis, commonly known as the “Mining Bee.” This natural phenomenon occurs between March and July. The bee ranges from Nova Scotia, Canada south to Georgia, United States. This bee is known to be polylectic (diverse forage), but can specialize on pollinating apples. Colletes will fly about a half mile to a mile and a half for forage. To view snapshots and full screen viewing of this Gigapan, see If you are lucky enough to find a congregation area, it is a sight to see. There can be hundreds to thousands of these small, excavated tunnels present on…

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