October 1st to 10th, 2003
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|A beekeeper wrote
me with this enquiry, quoting a previous diary page...
| Hi Allen,
I recently accepted the position of regional apiary inspector for (X). I am seeing a lot of AFB in one county and while it is easy to identify it brings up a number of questions which are not so easy. Do you think it is easy for the beekeeper to transfer disease from hive to hive by using the same gloves or hive tool or by handling the frames and the smoker in each colony. My feeling was that spores would be not high in number on the end bars or where you would generally handle the frame so it would be hard to transfer disease where it could get into the food. I noticed however that when I found one diseased hive there was a good chance that the one behind it or on the next pallet was likely to be infected. Apiaries were uninfected or had several infected hives. They never had just one hive infected. I have been very careful to flame my tool and wear throwaway gloves when inspecting but I noticed that the commercial beekeepers don't bother and they have lots of disease.
One commercial beekeeper claimed to use hygienic queens but I noticed hives with AFB had chalkbrood too. He claimed that it is unusual for hives with chalkbrood to also have AFB. My feeling was both diseases present themselves when the bees are slow to clean out dead brood. Certainly with chalkbrood, early removal of dying brood will remove the fungus in its vegetative stage and spores will never form to infect other larvae. What do you think?
I understand AFB is a spore forming bacteria that can create billions of spores in one dead larvae. Even if Hygienic bees get to the larvae before it is dead there are probably millions of spores in the cell. If they do not remove the larvae whole then how do they prevent spreading the disease? This kind of suggests that in order to kill a larvae a large number of spores have to be fed to it. Do you think this is the case or there is something else I am missing? If I am right perhaps it is difficult to infect a colony from your gloves or hive tool.
One of the things that surprises me is how in 30 colonies you will find some heavily diseased and others nearby that appear clear. Could it be that they also are diseased but are able to clear up the cells fast enough that it just appears as a somewhat spotty brood pattern?
I believe supers have the potential to re-infect colonies yet I noticed a commercial beekeeper take off his honey without looking to see if any hives were diseased. How did you prevent reusing supers that came off hives that had AFB. Did you inspect earlier and remove those that had disease or what?
The area of inspection I now have has been without an inspector for years and with much disease it is going to be difficult to clean it up. I know the attitude of some in this area is that they don't want to burn their hives because they feel that AFB is in old trees, the soil etc and they are just going to get re-infected again anyhow. I welcome your input.
This one commercial beekeeper said he uses hygienic bees and treated with antibiotics three times a year yet he has lots of disease. It appeared that he was throwing a lot of swarms and I wondered how often these new queens were hygienic since they were mating with whatever drones were around.
Today : Sunny. High 22. / Tonight : Clear. Low 6. / Normals for the period : Low 1. High 15.
I never have been good at throwing things out, but have decided that the time has come. I spent the day cleaning up a pile of old electronic junk in a corner of my shack, and talking to California stations in the California QSO Party at random as I tried to figure out what to do with eight-track tapes, old slide projectors, etc, etc.
I'm not a serious ham, but have held an advanced ticket since 1976 and had the call VE6CFK since that time. At some points I was quite active and went to picnics, did satellite and considered moon-bounce, ran a net and all the other things that fanatic hams do, bit when the Internet became available in the early nineties, I joined the Calgary Unix Users Group and transferred my 'ham' passion to the internet.
In the evening, Bert dropped by for supper. Shirley came over later and we talked flying and houseboating until eleven or so.
Today : Sunny. Wind becoming north 20 km/h near noon. High 24. / Tonight : Clear. Low 4. / Normals for the period : Low 1. High 15.
|This was in my
inbox this morning
Yup, I'm 58 today.
Today : Sunny. High 25. / Tonight : Clear. Low 5. / Normals for the period : Low 1. High 15
Today we are expecting temperatures up to 26 degrees -- perfect feeding weather.
I've not been paying much attention to the bees, and realized we need to check weights and do any remaining feeding before the opportunity passes. Dennis wants to eventually own his own bees, so remembering the essential tasks and scheduling is a critical skill he must learn. as a result, I have been leaving these things to Dennis and only intervening if it looks as if the time window is about to close with a task incomplete. Today I realized that we have not hefted the hives for one final time, and not done natural varroa drop tests.
We have fed, and we are not expecting varroa problems, but now is the time to verify that our measures have been successful, so Dennis went out and found that we still have some light hives.
We check by taking two brood chambers that, together, weigh 50 kg (110 pounds) along with us on the truck and hefting them to get a sense of the ideal weight, then hefting hives in the yard. To check hives for weight, we just grab the lower handhold and tip each hive back a tiny bit to get a feel for its weight. We compare that to the feel of tipping the similar boxes with a known correct weight. Experience shows that anyone can soon guess hive weight within a kilo or two!
Our goal is to have all hives right at, or slightly above, 50 kg. Usually if 85% or more are at the benchmark, or above, the yard will winter just fine -- assuming the yard has been fed twice. Some hives are always heavy and some a little light, especially if there is a variety of genetics in the yard.
We always feed at least twice, with a break of several days between feedings. During that time, after the bees clean up the first round of syrup, we leave the drum(s) without any feed, until the feeding frenzy has died down.
The first open-barrel feeding gives all the hives a chance to fill the brood area with syrup as the brood hatches. Some hives are more agressive and fill up fast. In the second feeding, the full hives usually are not as enthusiastic and the second feeding, a week later, attracts mainly the hungry hives, and they catch up with the others. By having a short break between feedings, we equalize the weights. If we fed continuously, the most aggressive feeders would go far overweight and plug to the point where they would not winter as well, or have room for brood in spring.
Since Dennis reported that he found some hives were still light, and we see the weather will be warm for a day or two more, he got syrup into all the three yards by noon. Then he settled down to putting in mite-drop boards and recording weights (with brick signals) for our final round later this week. We have a buyer who wants to buy all the remaining hives this weekend, so we want them fed by then, and we want to check them to eliminate any obvious duds before he comes to get them. We intend to sell them in a ready to wrap condition. The price? $225 Canadian each, as-is, where-is for the whole lot that we consider okay to winter after we eliminate the 'dinks'. That includes the bees and two broods, feed, floors (pallets) and lids. Supers are extra..
Ellen & I drove to Calgary in the afternoon to see our planner. We had supper at Foody Goody and came home. I've had a cold for the past few days.
|Fungal Mite Pathogen: Evaluating the fungus Hirsutella thompsoni as a control for Varroa mites|
Today : Sunny. Wind becoming west 20 km/h. High 24. / Tonight : A few clouds. Wind west 20 km/h becoming light near midnight. Low 8. / Normals for the period : Low zero. High 14.
We continued feeding hives. Dennis brought back back the hives from Boeses' in expectation that they will be sold on the weekend, and having them here will make the pickup easier for the buyer.
I spent the afternoon rewiring the phone circuits in this house. Several hours were wasted when I installed a defective receptacle. It took a while to find the short.
|This was in my
inbox this morning
I try to put in interesting pictures, but I am not doing much anymore. I also have a problem if I put too many pictures in, since the pages get slow for those on telephone dialup.
Anyhow, thanks for the note.
Today : A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers. Wind becoming west 30 km/h this afternoon. High 19. / Tonight : A few clouds. Wind west 30 km/h. Low 4. / Normals for the period : Low zero. High 14.
Date: Tue Oct 7, 2003 7:14 pm
Subject: Re: Bee Sting Prevention
My local bee inspector used the best line I have heard about beekeeping, "Remember there are always more of them than there are of you."
My cold is better today, but I hardly slept last night. Dennis came in and we sent him to Meijers' to get the supers that they extracted for us. All told, Joe figures we got 1,100 pounds or so. Not too bad, considering we started with 30 hives and split them heavily, with the goal of not having to extract. Many hives were quite heavy before feeding, so I am assuming that another 50 pounds or so of honey went into the broods in each hive.
My mother arrived at Edmonton International and Jean picked her up. Mom'll stay with Jean and Chris for a day or two, then come down here.
Today : Sunny with cloudy periods. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h this afternoon. High 17. / Tonight : A few clouds. Wind southwest 20 km/h. Low 5. / Normals for the period : Low zero. High 14.
A stack of mite boards coated with salad oil and with screens held on by elastics. Tabs made of tape identify the hive tested. We test about 10% of the hives at random, and only test further if we see problems. Click to enlarge.
Take a test. How many adult varroa do you see in this picture? Click to enlarge. Write me with your answer, if you like.
We picked up the varroa mite drop boards this morning and looked them over. The first batch of five sticky boards showed 10, 6, 2, 0 & 2 mites over three days of natural mite drop, and the second batch showed 0, 0, 1, 1 & 3. The third showed 0, 0, 1, 1, & 4. The boards had been in for three days and, therefore, each result should be divided by three then multiplied by 100 (the estimated average varroa lifespan ) to estimate total mite loads. Thus the worst hive could be assumed to have a 333 mite load. That is nowhere near serious. 350 mites as a total load, is very light, in fact. A visit to the varroa calculator gives a different perspective, but it also assume drone brood, which we no longer have at this time of year.
Counting is always difficult when there are so few mites, and we are always tempted to count the immatures -- the occasional mites we see in the board that were almost fully developed in a cell when the host bee emerged, but which die immediately of exposure, when deprived of the special conditions inside a cell. Such mites have the shape, and often the size of mature mites, but are pale and translucent. We know they did not live even one day after emerging, and were never part of the adult, reproducing, population. Since their lifespan is zero days, the 100 day estimated average lifespan multiplier does not apply, and I figure immatures should not be counted.
By this time of year, there should be very little brood in which mites can hide, so most varroa should be phoretic at this point. When the mites are phoretic -- on bees, and not hidden in brood -- they are at their most vulnerable, and have the highest mortality rates, so, even using a multiplier of 100, which could be high, we are seeing very low infestation rates. Over winter, the mites will be under even greater pressure, as they occasionally fall off bees and are exposed to the cold conditions at the hive floor, unless they are able to grab back onto another bee.
For some reason, varroa is not giving us much trouble. For the past several years, the only treatment we have used is a single Apistan™ strip placed in the centre of the cluster in the early spring and left for 42 days. Our tests always show very low levels of mites, much lower than when we used two strips in the fall plus several formic treatments. Granted, we had a dry year in 2002, and we spilt heavily this year, and both these factors tend to reduce varroa loads, but, nonetheless, we did not split all hives, and when everything is considered we still are seeing lower levels that we would expect and lower levels than we saw in the past.
The drop boards we use are just Coroplast™ sheets cut to roughly the size of a sheet of foundation, with a tab of Duct tape added, and with a piece of 6 mesh hardware cloth sitting on top to keep bees out. The screen has been bent to be a bit dish-shaped so that it sits up above the board about 1/4" so the bees will not contact the salad oil/Vaseline™ mix which is smeared onto each board before it is placed under the hive, to catch and drown falling mites.
To insert the boards, we just hold the hive floor down with one foot, if necessary, and tip the hive back a bit. It does not matter if some frames touch the screen when the hive is lowered. As for catching all the mites, we centre the boards under the cluster and figure if we miss one of two mites, that this will not grossly affect our estimate. This is not rocket science. We're just looking for a rough indication whether to expect trouble, or not worry for another six months.
Today : Sunny with cloudy periods. Wind west 40 gusting to 60 km/h. High 13. / Tonight : Clear. Wind west 30 km/h. Low 3. / Normals for the period : Low zero. High 14.
"If I make a
living off it, that's great -- but I come from a culture where you're valued
not so much by what you acquire but by what you give away,"
-- Larry Wall (the inventor of Perl)
|Please report any problems or errors to Allen Dick
© allen dick 1999-2012. Permission granted to copy in context for non-commercial purposes, and with full attribution.