The Old Man is taking
a Siesta. He asked me to write an article this month.
By Gordon Powell
I figure the best thing I can write about is
disease, or better yet how to identify and clean up disease, not
just treat to prevent disease.
I recently got the shock of my bee keeping years,
when I found five hives out of eight with a severe case of American
Foul Brood. I am sure that one of the hives found the disease
and that I didn’t find it when I added supers in early June.
The disease weakens this hive to the point that the other hives
robbed them of their honey and killed the bees. This is how the
disease was spread to the other four hives.
I found the disease when I went to get bees ready
for the fair. It was obvious that I had a large clean up job ahead
of me. First I confirmed that it was American Foul Brood using
the rope test, as shown in the photo below. My nose had already
told me that it was American foul brood. The dead decaying brood
whether it is a few cells or a whole frame gives off a very foul
odor. Once you know the odor it is not hard to recognize American
foul brood whenever you encounter it again. Here are two pictures
showing the foul brood (Photo 1) and how to test using a small
twig or toothpick (Photo 2). You will notice that the dead larvae
sticks to the twig and stretches out from the cell. You will notice
the small holes in the capping where the live bees have opened
the cells to see why the bees haven’t hatched.
To clean up disease from the equipment that is
as severe as this requires quick action and positive results.
I brought in the dead hive and immediately placed the wooden frames
with beeswax foundation in a better way wax melter and turned
the thermostat to 275 degrees and let it run for 3 hours after
reaching that temperature. This prevents the spread of the disease
by sterilizing the frames and killing the bacillius larvae that
is found in the spores in the comb that causes American Foulbrood.
This melted all of the wax from the comb, which I caught in a
clean pan. I then took the wooden frames with the hot dry casing
left from the brood and placed the casing in a cardboard box,
which I placed in a closed garbage can until I was able to dispose
of it properly. The disease only effects the young bees as they
are going into metamorphous to change from a worm into an insect.
The spores have to be in the food, honey; that they eat. After
sterilizing the frames in the melter, I rewired and installed
new foundation. I then scorched the inside of the hive body and
bottom board with a propane torch to kill any spores. I placed
one frame of drawn comb from clean bees and a division feeder
in a deep hive body with five newly sterilized wooden frames with
new foundation. I fixed two hive bodies this way and took them
out to the bee yard. I opened the next hive that had the disease
American Foulbrood and set the brood nest off on an old hive body.
I then place one of the clean hive bodies where the old hive body
had been on a freshly cleaned bottom board. I then filled the
feeder with fructose corn syrup. I then took a frame from the
disease hive body and after looking for the queen shook the bees
off in front of the hive.