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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    Default Diagnosing Parisitic Mite Syndrome

    Everytime someone mentions "PMS," someone asks what that is. Or, trying to diagnose a dead out in the spring, the question comes up, could it be Varroa?

    With a live colony, it's not too difficult to diagnose PMS. Wingless, crawling bees out front of the hive. Bees hatching with shrivled wings. Lots of mites present in brood, and on bottom board.

    What about with a dead colony? It's a little more difficult in the spring with a dead out. You have to dig into the brood.

    These photos are from a nuc made in July, from a weak colony. Varroa killed it by October. It has been reported that making nucs will allow a colony to re-build from a Varroa infestation. Not always true. This one didn't make it.

    A shot of one of the 4 combs in the nuc. Obviously something wrong. Terrible pattern, and pollen packed in everywhere. Sealed brood has died while hatching. No unsealed brood...although you will see eggs in following photo.



    Why the pollen like that? I can only guess. Hatching brood died, reducing the number of nurse bees. Queen continues to lay, but no nurse bees to fee larvae. Larvae die and bees eat them. Still field bees gathering pollen, trying to save the colony. Colony eventually crashes.

    This shot is a closer view of that comb.



    The bees have uncapped dead brood. Notice no larvae, but eggs. Also notice, the bee in the middle with tongue out. Died in the process of hatching. These are the bees you want to look at for PMS symptoms. If healthy, they should have fully formed wings and abdomens at least as long as their wings. Some bees you remove from their cells will look healthy...fully formed wings, and full sized abdomens....

    PMS bees have virus problems, and when they hatch will have shriveled wings and stunted abdomens. This next shot is of three bees I removed from their cells.



    Notice the wings and abdomens. The bee in the center is how a newly hatched bee should look.

    Finally, a shot of the remaining cluster...quite dead. 20 bees and their queen. Also a hitchhiking vampire at bottom left.



    In the spring, a dead colony may not be so obvious. There may only be a small bit of sealed brood. Look for hatching bees with their tongues out. These are usually old enough to have wings, and not be rotted down. Pull as many as you can find. PMS becomes obvious when you know what to look for.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Danbury,Ct. USA
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    1,966

    Default

    Hey Mike,
    A great post. It explains, in pictures, how PMS can mimic many other things. Sure looks like AFB doesn't it? I'd like to copy this to my clubs newsletter if you aren't getting ready to publish it. I looked hard at the yellow looking larvae in the pix and they remind me of EFB. Any chance it could be a companion?

    Dick Marron

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Crown Point , (NW) Indiana
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    529

    Default I like the pollen stores....

    I have to take this back to what I see in my own hives, from what I see in dianostic pics like MP above, and what I read from colleges and researchers.

    Lack of brood doesn't have to reflect exclusively on bad queens or lack of a flow. When the colony has a disease situation, its not uncommon to see a brood production slow down or even cease. I think this is an act of preservation, to avoid spreading disease. And when this is combined with continued foraging (the excess pollen stores) it makes some sense that the bees are bringing in nutrition via pollen (what else improves your immune system better?). So when the nutrition improves and the brood emerges healthier, then the colony should come around. This is a catch-22 with just how late in the season it might be however. Too late, there will not be enough time for enought brood cycles for this to be effective in turning the hive around. This also presumes that general health isn't already so far south that it is merely spiralling into collapse.

    I guess my questions become (and I know this isn't an answer I expect from the crowd) but when does the disease become recognized by the bees and start to shut down brood rearing, and just how likely is recovery (and that may depend on a lot of our uncontrolable factors like nectar/pollen flows, weather, and trace genetics). I have also read that many viruses are highly contigeous, that can make one wonder just how long they can continue to be passed around a hive. And what makes some totally collapse and others linger and just serve as a cess pool for disease.

    It is all a very interesting balancing act.

    Thanks for the pictures, I've been a bit tired of hearing from others "My dead hives starved to death because the bees tongues were out".

    -Jeff
    There is always more than one way to skin a cat, that's of course if you're into eating cats.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dickm View Post
    Hey Mike,
    A great post. It explains, in pictures, how PMS can mimic many other things. Sure looks like AFB doesn't it? I'd like to copy this to my clubs newsletter if you aren't getting ready to publish it. I looked hard at the yellow looking larvae in the pix and they remind me of EFB. Any chance it could be a companion?

    Dick Marron
    It does...if you're not quite sure what you're looking at. But, digging in a little deeper you see dead ADULT bees, and none that died while young pupae. Yes, there is uncapped worker brood, but inside are older pupae/almost adults, which wouldn't be the case with AFB. I saw one this summer that sure looked like AFB. Didn't rope. Left it for a month. Same symptoms, and didn't spread within the colony..just a few cells on a couple frames. Burned it anyway.

    Yeah, you can use it.

    I looked for the "yellow looking larvae." Couldn't find any. Sure you're not looking at pollen?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pickens, SC, USA
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    233

    Default

    Thank you.. I really enjoyed this informative post

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
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    3,740

    Default

    "Died in the process of hatching. These are the bees you want to look at for PMS symptoms. If healthy, they should have fully formed wings and abdomens at least as long as their wings. Some bees you remove from their cells will look healthy...fully formed wings, and full sized abdomens...."

    michael, thanks for this thread. in reading what i quoted above, i have a couple of questions. when "looking for bees dying in the process of hatching with their tongues out"...are you saying that this itself is a symptom of pms, or look at these bees for unformed wings, and abdomens?

    if the latter, what are the other causes of dead emerging bees with their tongues out? are there other clues to look for to determine other causes?

    thanks,

    deknow

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    michael, thanks for this thread. in reading what i quoted above, i have a couple of questions. when "looking for bees dying in the process of hatching with their tongues out"...are you saying that this itself is a symptom of pms, or look at these bees for unformed wings, and abdomens?
    deknow
    No, not specifically a symptom. It's just that these bees are old enough to have fully formed wings. So, pulling them will show DWV if it's there.

    I guess the actual cause of death of these hatching bees with their tongues out could be starvation. Maybe they're begging for a meal as they struggle to hatch.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    Default

    In a nutshell, about all the comments are correct. PMS may include dead larvae, dead adults, deteriorating mushy bees and larvae mimicking AFB, deformed wings, etc. The mite overload can cause viral outbreaks, a lack of organization, and a complete shutdown of normal bee activity. So bees begging for food may not get fed, larvae may not get fed enough to even withstand normal mite load, a good queen will show patterns effected by the queen not having good clean cells to lay in, AFB that was in check now gets a foothold, daily chores such as housecleaning and rearing brood gets disrupted, etc. So yes, you will see about everything thrown in.

    I have taken hives or nucs such as this (not dead) and swapped location with a stronger hive. The infusion of the work force will normally straighten out such a hive as these. Yeah, it may be a waste of resources, but it works just the same. And if it does work, get rid of the queen and change the genetics. You should constantly be replacing the weak links in your operation.

    Great post and pictures!
    Last edited by BjornBee; 12-21-2007 at 07:13 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Romney Marsh Kent England UK
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    292

    Default

    hi Michael Palmer,

    what cell size are the frames that they collapsed on.

    Regards tony

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    Default

    Just regular ole cells. :-)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Whitefield, Maine USA
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    Default

    Nice job Mike.

    The bees dying half out of their cells with their tongues sticking out is certainly due to starvation which points to a lack of nurse bees at the crucial time of emergence. Before the hive reaches the stage shown in your photographs, bee population is already way off and the downward spiral has begun.
    Dulcius ex asperis

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