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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
    Posts
    397

    Post

    Hi all:

    Since to breed strong queens and have good brood patterns, beekeepers need to know what the various brood patterns are, and look like,confronting them, I am posting the following:

    A beekeeper can look at a picture of "pepperpot brood" and "buckshot" or
    "gunshot" brood and just from the picture say foul, sick, diseased, or
    inbred, or mites, or hankering down, or chilled brood, or failing queen, flow
    shut-off, and see ??, for a picture without closeup view inside the cells
    says what, to what one is looking at, so a beekeeper knows what corrective
    management actions to then take.

    Pepperpot brood is a brood pattern associated normally, only with calculating
    inbreeding.

    Background:
    In the honeybee it is not an entire chromosome, but a single gene, that
    determines sex. There are about a dozen variants of this hereditary factor
    (gene) denoted by a1, a2, a3. . . .a12. This range of sex-determining genes
    is called the Sex Alleles. If two different alleles come together a female
    larva is ALWAYS produced. If however, only one type is present (two not
    coming together) then a male is produced. Now also, since there is only one
    set of chromosomes in each unfertilized egg, and therefore only one sex
    allele, than only a drone can be produced from it.

    The inbreeding part:
    In very few cases from free mating (open mating) and at a very much higher
    rage from insemination (manual mating, inbreeding) it will happen that by
    pure chance two similar sex alleles come together in a fertilized egg.
    According to the general rule this union should produce drones, but the bees
    scheme for living does not allow this. So what happens? Scarcely are the
    larvae hatched out of these eggs then the bees destroy them!!

    This loss of brood then looks to the beekeeper as a spotty pattern that is
    called Pepperpot Brood. It results form Brother-Sister mating (drone and
    queen form the same stock) and can result in an average loss of brood of 25%
    or more.

    So you are seeing CLEAN EMPTY HOLES in your layed up workerbrood pattern.

    Now, the exact count of the holes in the workerbrood is therefore of great
    importance for those line breeding their bees, but question here is how many
    on the list here are actually line breeding??? I myself don't think very
    many. Now if beekeepers here only use stocks selected that show very few
    holes among the workerbrood for queenrearing, then queens will be reared that
    have a greater number of sex alleles and thus little inbreeding or this
    Pepperpot Brood pattern for the most part.

    Counting to see:
    The counting of brood is very simple. At a time when the queen you want to
    check is laying well, place a brown comb of high quality (cells same size and
    uniform by the way) in the middle of the broodnest. Three days later examine
    to see if a wide area has been laid in. 12 days after inserting the comb,
    count the unsealed cells using a template with a rhombic opening which is cut
    to expose 10x10=100 cells, parallel walls to parallel walls. Then count in
    several places to get yourself a mean figure (average figure here). If the
    count is delayed for a few more days, relaying by the queen could produce a
    false impression of a well filled comb.

    For good outbreeding you should see none to 1 to maybe 6 empty holes on
    inpsection.

    For Pepperpot Brood and inbreeding you should see 35-45 open empty cleaned
    cells to really get concerned and do something.

    The correction is very simple. You merely change the queen by open mating her
    once but best two times from new stock within your choosen stock line or
    bees, or simply buy yourself a new queen and take the old one out. If using
    your own bees, then simply choose a hive to graft from with a good solid
    brood pattern. No more, no less.

    Will continue down the list with another post shortly.

    Regards,

    Dee A. Lusby


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
    Posts
    397

    Post

    Hi all:

    Guess it's time to start going over some of the other items listed for beekeepers to recognize for something being wrong, as they look at their broodnests as the active beekeeping year comes on.

    So let's now go very simply over "Chilled Brood" and if anyone has comments to add for what they are seeing, please do so, so others know what to look for, etc.

    Chilled brood or larvae unfortunately is a common thing to see with new beekeepers bees, and is more associated with in-experience then anything else. But quickly corrected so it doesn't happen in subsequent years, as beekeepers learn to recognize what is going on and how to manipulate their honeybees with the coming of each new year.

    Chilled larvae generaly die in large evenly distributed batches, whereas diseased larvae from for example, say a foulbrood, generally die irregularly, giving a patchy appearance to the combs.

    So with chilled larvae or even chilled sealed brood you see a regular pattern that has gone wrong. Now in looking at chilled brood you must know that (this comes from experience with all beekeepers) that diseased larvae NEVER die before the 4th day or so, so what you are looking at with chilled larvae is the presence of young dead brood (brood here not old enough to even cover the bottoms of the cells - like grafting age larvae really) in even dead batches now chilled and changing to grey and eventually to black from the cold, indicating that there has been chilling. To see this with capped brood you must uncap and look for the darkened chilled papae simimulary.

    So how does this happen you then say?

    Background:
    Well, normally it comes from stimulating brood production by beekeepers themselves. IMPOV, the best stimulation for early brood production is autumn, by allowing bees to have and fill unlimited broodnests with ample stores of pollen and honey. I think we have mentioned here before that it takes one cell of honey, one cell of pollen and the erquivalent of one cell of water carried in to make a bee, which then means stores for storage for starting up in the spring. So going into winter beekeepers should consider estimating about 1lb of pollen is required for every 4,500 bees they want produced in the spring for startup, or l lb of pollen for each lb of bees they want to have roughly.

    Now this is to have on hand for spring start up, and so after consumption of honey all winter then to fire up your bees for brooding, then you need to have left a similar amount of honey also.

    But if you don't then what?

    Well, this is where the chilled brood scenario starts. Early spring stimulation is liable (and many times does) to overtax old bees and lead to spring dwindling (reduction in numbers) with consequent loss of brood and increased danger of disease. Why?

    Because besides feeding, some beekeepers try to enlarge the broodnest by inserting empty frames and do other re-arrangements too soon! If there are not enough bees to cover the increased area, and then by souping up the bees you automatically raise their metobolic rate, you also quicken and shorten their lives artificially. If the old bees then die faster then new ones can be raised, the danger of chilled brood greatly increases for having brood and eggs that cannot be cared for properly, and then a cold snap hits and then whamo. Sudden death and beekeepers try to figure out what happened.

    NOt to say that egg laying and broodrearing cannot be stimulated artificially, but beekeepers must stay on top of this process all the time, and if they see the bees are having difficulties in covering the new larvae, eggs, brood, etc they should make for other arrangements for keeping it warm by i.e. stacking weak nucs on top of other stronger hives to help keep them warm for a few weeks, until they are strong enough to do so on their own, and with fresh pollen and honey coming in hopefully, naturally.

    Now a reason I am going over this is because many of you have received packages of new bees and are trying to start colonies. Many packages have been received in areas with snow still on the ground and times like this can be trying for a new beekeeper starting up.

    So make sure here, that you keep your bees supplied with ample stores of feed, both honey and either some fresh pollen or artificial pollen (yes first year here hopefully only) and you don't try to expand the broodnest too quickly, while drawing out new combs. Not that you cannot manipulate the brood, but try to do it solidly in rotation, from center to sides with few gaps of empty foundation until you have enough bees to keep everyone warm for smooth expansion. Evenly drawn small cell to the center more and transitional (unevenly drawn) combs to the outside of the area the bees are actively working up.

    To go too quickly while old bees are dying (stressed with artificial spring stimulation) can speed up problems if not watched for.

    So having said all of that, guess I better stop for now.

    Anyone else haveing pointers to add please feel free to do so for discussion.

    Regards

    Dee

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,949

    Post

    It always seems to me that it's best to help the bees a little with what they think is best. You rearrage things too much and it disrupts their plan and causes havoc. Of course a split seems like a lot of disruption too, but if you try to put things (stores, brooed etc.) back in the order the bees would have it works much better than just throwing frames in a box.

    The leading problem bees face is overly "helpful" beekeepers.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
    Posts
    751

    Post

    Not long after getting my first nuc I started to see dead larvae in the cells, and thrown down on the hive floor. PANIC! I thought I had EFB. As I got to know more, I realised that I had a strain of bee which went all out in the spring to raise as much brood as possible; no stores were laid down at all until after the broodnest had reached its full size. This isn't a very good idea in our dodgy climate, and as soon as we had a few days' bad weather, there was a load of starved brood in the hive.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
    Posts
    397

    Post

    Robert wrote:
    Not long after getting my first nuc I started to see dead larvae in the cells, and thrown down on the hive floor. PANIC! I thought I had EFB. As I got to know more, I realised that I had a strain of bee which went all out in the spring to raise as much brood as possible; no stores were laid down at all until after the broodnest had reached its full size. This isn't a very good idea in our dodgy climate, and as soon as we had a few days' bad weather, there was a load of starved brood in the hive

    Reply:
    Yes and this is why beekeepers need to note the area they live in and then try to bring in bees that FIT their area. But unfortunately, this is seldom done anymore. Temperate areas need bees of the temperate type which are normally darker to the browns and blacks then the yellower bees of the tropics. Why? Because in winter bees have to learn to conserve stores or perish. NOt so in tropical areas or areas of ever blooming plants that seem to raise bees that don't care about so much stores on hand. Hence, they build up and swarm and then swarm again from bloom to bloom throughout the active year.

    Now this dearth part and need to store food is also seen in desert areas of the world, but here the extreme heat does the cutting back. But actually the temp extremes of both balance each other for selection of bees and transition back and forth.

    Good point you brought up Robert. So now I bet you look at acclimitizing to ones own area a whole lot differently since then.

    Regards,

    Dee

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
    Posts
    751

    Post

    I certainly do! Over the three seasons I had that strain, they darkened noticeably, developed a habit of storing great quantities of pollen, and the last season there was no starved brood. They were becoming better adapted as they interbred with local bees, but the queens always had trouble mating in the dodgy weather we've had the last few years, and this is what finished them. This time I've got A.m.m., and they should go better. Last summer was particularly bad, and one beekeeper told me that he'd noticed that people using imported queens had lost a lot of hives, while those with native bees had done all right.

    ------------------
    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
    Posts
    397

    Post

    Hi all
    Continuing. . .
    Now starting to discuss seeing the differences between
    chilled brood and chalk brood so beekeepers can tell them apart.

    First of all, chilled brood (maybe here in hot desert, overheated brood,like
    on other hot deserts around world where beekeeping is) is simply brood larvae
    or sealed pupae that have become too cold and simply die to the elements
    (could also become too hot).

    When looking down into the cells what you see is merely the dead remains of
    the larvae (or as Ma calls them, grubs) or pupae changing color only like any
    other dead animal. Mostly here greyish turning then to blackish. Most often
    the workerbees themselves just clean them out and the colony goes on without
    beekeepers noticing much.

    When beekeepers do find it, it is mostly in the spring with smaller clusters
    trying to fire up their brood for first turn over for the coming year. Can
    also be found coming out of hot summers where brood has turned off and then
    fires back up for the fall season run, to go into winter taking on stores for
    prolonged hibernation. Additionally it can be found during the active year by
    beekeepers trying to expand the broodnest by inserting empty frames of either
    drawn comb or new foundation, and/or other rearrangements that overextend the
    bees taking care of the broodnest, so that the brood cannot be cared for
    properly. Then they must choose what to save, what to let die (mostly
    periphery brood if possible, or outside frames). If they feel they cannot
    save anything, then this leads many times to bees absconding and starting
    anew or recombining with another close by colony.

    Now with chalk brood (and even stone brood since similar - both fungis
    caused) the fungis then come in and start multiplying upon the dead larvae
    (grubs here for others). Now with Chalk the larvae die of chalkbrood after their
    cells have been capped and early on look fluffy and swollen from white in
    color, to blues, greys, greens, and almost blacks. Then they sort of dry out
    and shrink and get hard looking like little chips slightly rounded on one
    side. Now the difference with stone brood is that it can do this to unsealed
    brood in more advanced stages as the bees mostly clean out the earlier
    stages, but they are both basically the same.

    Now another thing to go over here is that when beekeepers find problems,
    especially newer ones, they treat first and then ask or try to find out what
    they had. This then brings on problems due to the medication, for as with all
    medication there are side effects you must be aware of.

    In this case TM or terramycin is normally used (here in USA), but then many
    newbees are not aware that antibiotics can upset the balance of the
    intestinal flora of bees and thus allows the fungus to grow even more in many
    cases. Especially for those thinking a little is good so a lot is better.
    Which is not true.

    Here not only do you then get chalk out of control in weak colonies you are
    trying to save, probably already chilled and not enough nursebees to cover
    the brood and care for it adequately, but you also upset the digestion tract
    of the animal you are treating also, your bees , and bees are animals just
    like humans with stomachs and intestines too! This then makes things harder
    for them, for now they have upset tummies!

    Now on top of this, there is another kicker! TM or terramycin is also known
    to shorten the life of the adult honeybee by 50% so these poor bees now
    trying to save and turn brood, have sick stomachs and overload of work and
    now we add on shortening their lives by halfs.

    The last thing is that where chalk brood gets out of control, so does the
    antibiotic terramycin also let EFB and AFB get out of control also, but here
    it is magnified by the problem that the parafoul, a foul normally used in
    diagnosis to be able to say for sure EFB and AFB is present, is many times
    not even mentioned in the diagnosis as being there and is the foul giving the
    problems and antiobiotic not working due to resistance, because the
    beekeepers did not ask for is diagnosis. So the problem goes on and the bees
    die.

    Best control, is let the bees control it naturally, and believe it or not, small cell does this. When we went to small cell our secondary infections
    dropped to about 1-2% total for all combined fouls/chalk by the end of the
    second year, but we pulled and culled and melted down the infested combs to
    do so when we found them, shaking off bees and taking the infected brood. In
    some cases we had to combine colonies to make stonger ones that could
    survive, and in other cases we merely shook in nurse bees from stong colonies
    available to give the weaker colonies more strength to handle problems. In
    some cases also we added both brood and nurse bees. And by the way, always
    add brood and nurse bees together, not brood by itself or you can throw a
    colony out of balance and create problems by poor ratio of nurse bees to
    brood and then the circle starts again.

    Now what does this have to do with breeding you say? Well, many times the
    problems of chilled brood and chalk come on by too lean of splits/divides
    during breeding, and beekeepers not compensating for old field bees going
    back home, by not adding enough nurse bees to care for the brood and take on
    new duties at a new location either in the same beeyard or in another.

    So in the end what do they call it then, disease suceptable bees? Failing
    queen? Bad genetics? etc.

    Couldn't possibly be that they need to learn a little more about their bees
    and how to recognize and react to various things they see happening in the
    broodnest,with better management, as good operating caretakers in our vast
    Garden of Eden.

    So how your bees coming? Keep asking don't I? ;> )

    Regards,

    Dee A. Lusby







  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    michigan
    Posts
    393

    Post

    Hi Dee

    I have to say it has been a rather strange spring here this year. Fairly cold and rainy.....we must be about 2 weeks behind normal. But the rain is badly needed.

    Seems like everytime I go to graft it rains and gets cold. Finally have 1st queens of the year laying this weekend but my success rate was the lowest I have ever seen it. As a rule I would rather wait until June to raise queens so that I don't fight the weather but it only gives a short time for them to prepare for winter and a bad fall flow really culls them out.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
    Posts
    397

    Post

    Wineman wrote:
    I have to say it has been a rather strange spring here this year. Fairly cold and rainy.....we must be about 2 weeks behind normal. But the rain is badly needed.

    Reply:
    Same here. Half month rain Feb and then 70 degree weather into May. Our palo verde trees just blooming now, along with ironwoods. These should have bloomed in April.

    Mesquite trees and Sahauro cactus holding back from bloom in hills. Will now probably bloom with monsoons in summer.

    Haven't had a summer flow to remember since 1983 or so, thinking about it!

    Yes, strange late year.Plants all out of wack with calendar.

    You further wrote:
    Seems like everytime I go to graft it rains and gets cold. Finally have 1st queens of the year laying this weekend but my success rate was the lowest I have ever seen it. As a rule I would rather wait until June to raise queens so that I don't fight the weather but it only gives a short time for them to prepare for winter and a bad fall flow really culls them out.

    Reply:
    Yes, all this is true, but then the good side is you really get left with good survivors and the handholding bees are gone. But it sure is nerve wracking in the meantime when one needs bees and has equipment to hold.

    Regards,

    Dee


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Occuppied CSA
    Posts
    13

    Post

    Hi Dee,

    Your description of larvae appearing black or gray describes a brood sample that I sent off to Beltville. I have not received the results but I was afraid that it was AFB exept that there was no decompostion and all of the dead were sealed pupae who were almost ready to hatch and some even had their heads protruding. I think it was my fault because I was overeager to move empty combs inward. What is worse is that I, thinking that this brood was good sealed brood, did use some in a split, and now the split hive is dying. Well, live an let learn!
    But otherwise the original hive is thriving and is producing 3+ supers of honey, a very good yield around here.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
    Posts
    397

    Post

    Honeybelle wrote:
    Your description of larvae appearing black or gray describes a brood sample that I sent off to Beltville. I have not received the results but I was afraid that it was AFB exept that there was no decompostion and all of the dead were sealed pupae who were almost ready to hatch and some even had their heads protruding. I think it was my fault because I was overeager to move empty combs inward. What is worse is that I, thinking that this brood was good sealed brood, did use some in a split, and now the split hive is dying. Well, live an let learn!
    But otherwise the original hive is thriving and is producing 3+ supers of honey, a very good yield around here.

    Reply:
    Sorry to hear of your problem. But, glad your original hive is now thriving and producing honey.

    I will have to finish this thread in the future with descriptions on fouls, thelytoky, inbreeding, mite chewing out signs, etc. But right now taking honey too for crop.So far, good year coming. Hope the best for you too!!!

    Regards,

    Dee

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