View Full Version : Suspected American Foulbrood
07-21-2003, 11:18 AM
I have a feeling that one of my hives may have AFB. The capped brood is a brownish color, and with the toothpick test the larvae is brown, and stringy. I have called to find an ispector to come and look to see if my diagnosis is correct, but the number to the agency said that due to government cut backs there isn't any in my area (central VA).
My question, should I treat with TM, and hope for the best, or should I burn the thing. Should I move the hive away from my others in the mean time. Any help is appreciated..
07-21-2003, 11:41 AM
>I have a feeling that one of my hives may have AFB. The capped brood is a brownish color,
The cappings or the brood? Cappings are often brownish colored. Brood should be white. Sometimes the food with the larvae is a little brown if the nectar source is dark, but the brood itself should still be white.
>and with the toothpick test the larvae is brown, and stringy.
Does it smell rotten? They don't call if foulbrood for nothing.
>I have called to find an ispector to come and look to see if my diagnosis is correct, but the number to the agency said that due to government cut backs there isn't any in my area (central VA).
I don't know what the laws are in VA but in some states if the inspector comes they will burn the hive, but if the inspector does not come you can treat if that's your choice.
>My question, should I treat with TM, and hope for the best, or should I burn the thing. Should I move the hive away from my others in the mean time. Any help is appreciated..
Of course you want to be sure first. There are always a lot of opinions and a lot of emotion on this subject. Burning is the traditional method. In our state you are required to either treat with TM or burn. You also need to check all of your other hives thoroughly. If your other hives are not infected and you have an isolated place you can put them, you could move them. Part of the problem is the hive will soon be quite weak and then the other hives will rob and then they will all be exposed. It's hard to say if they will succumb.
TM will only kill the live bacteria. The spores will live forever.
Personally if it was me, I would try to assess what I think the situation is. Is they hive on a rapid downhill slide? If so, I think I'd burn it because you'll lose it anyway and the equipment is full of spores. If they seem to be surviving with it, I might try treating and then mark all of the frames and never move them to another hive. Just burn them when you swap them out.
If the inpector gets involved you may have no choices.
Here is a link to some info including picutres of brood and capped brood: http://www.kohala.net/bees/index.html#anchor400987
07-21-2003, 12:05 PM
There are quite a few different possibilities besides burning or treating. On burining, you can burn the frames and fire the boxes. Some states have Ethylene Oxide Fumigation chambers available for saving the equipment. Some states have irradiation treatment for the eqiupment avaialble. If your state has one of these you may be able to save the equipment.
Some shake the bees off of the old equipment and burn the eqiupment and combs and put the bees on new equipment.
07-21-2003, 12:19 PM
Sounds like you diagnosed it correctly with brown and stringy.
The correct legal answer would seem to be do what your state requires with AFB. Each one seems a little different and some burn but others just treat.
Below are some of my ramblings on AFB.......
Some bees have an ability to handle AFB on their own. I believe the two old famous lines were Vancoy and Brown. Such bees are considered to be very hygenic.....you can find out more about them and HYG in some of the bee books.
Hygenic behavior is typically expressed on a scale from none to very hygenic with any and everything inbetween. Bees that arent hygenic generally wont uncapped diseased brood and do very little in the way of removing it even over a long period of time. Bees at the other end of the spectrum, detect, uncap and remove diseased brood in short order such as 12-24 hours. Most hygenic testing is done at 24 and 48 hour intervals.
So bees that fall in the hygenic category have a better chance of removing the diseased brood. Such colonies should show less AFB and generally never more than a couple of cells worth.
However, you have probably noticed that the stringy nature makes it hard to remove and then eventually it dries into the cell like super glue which must make it even worse to remove later. Bees that are even more successful at removal have a further level or different trait in that they tear down the cells completely....right down to plastic if that is the type of foundation. If an AFB infected frame is added to a colony of bees with the trait, they will tear the entire thing down and start over.
With TM, what you need to remember is that the antibiotic doesnt rid the hive of AFB. The upside of TM is that it gives the bees an ability to help them deal with AFB and can save a hive. The downside is that it can help a nonhygenic colony deal with AFB for a period of time. That colony often wont get rid of all the AFB and it just shows up next time the colony is weakened and then you are back to burning it anyway. Even worse is the potential exposure you have to your other colonies (not to mention your neighbors).....think what happens when you are making a split or a nuc from a colony that once had AFB and was treated with TM and doesnt show any sign of AFB on a quick inspection. Now you have weaker colonies that can and do break down with AFB quickly.
All those things I said about HYG give hope in the fight against AFB but my ending thoughts are that if you have enough AFB to find on an inspection having never seen it before, your colonies are most likely nowhere near the upper end of HYG. That isnt saying anything bad about your bees....thats basically the norm rather than the exception. Folks such as Dr. Spivak and Heitkams have spent years trying to push HYG....having it at high levels in a large percentage of your colonies takes great ongoing selection effort over years. TM might save it temporarily but I would bet money that you will see it again down the road. After I had double checked that it was AFB, think I would start a fire.
07-21-2003, 06:48 PM
Here a few pictures, if you can remove laves with a toothpick and they have a rotten smell
its almost 100% AFB.
The best way is burning all the frames and if you like to save the hives burn the hives inside with a propane or gas torch till the wood is really black.
07-23-2003, 09:32 PM
I finally found the state apiarist, and he is coming to inspect my hives tuesday. He told me that the state law requires burning if AFB is diagnosed, but only the frames the boxescan be flamed. The bees can be shaken off, and treated with TM. His suggestion if AFB was found was to shake them into a package box or something, feeding them heavily with TM for a few days until they pass it thru, and then put them on foundation. I don't have a package box, any suggestions on something else to shake them into for a day or two?
07-24-2003, 05:47 AM
Take a 10 frame box and put screen wire on the bottom (preferably #8 hardware cloth but door screen will do) Staple it all around really well or nail strips of wood (scrap or screen molding from the lumber yard) around to hold it on. If you don't have a 10 frame box, just make a box from any lumber about that size. Cut a piece of wood for a lid and cut a hole for the feeder. If you cut a piece of ply or ox board 1 1/2" too long you can put cleats on it. If not, you can nail it on. Screen the feeder hole on the bottom side so you can refill without messing with the bees. Put a couple of cleats on the bottom to raise it off the ground for ventilation. Are they to be free flying or cooped up? If you want to coop them up you are done. If you want them free flying you need a hole somewhere. You can drill a hole anywhere you want one later. The front of the box is a good spot. The tricky part is making it bee proof. It's tough to staple often enough that the weight of a cluster falling on the screen won't open up a spot somewhere.
07-24-2003, 06:50 AM
Thanks everyone, Michael, Sounds like he wants to coop them up. I hope it's something else, and I don't have to do this, but I appreciate the advise. I'll let you guys know what he comes up with next week
07-24-2003, 05:41 PM
Good luck and just hope that it isnt TM resistant.