Re: American Foulbrood (afb)
At Russell's urging this morning before he left for the Coast, I will chime in by describing how to check a hive for AFB, in a hive w/ a live colony and in a deadout hive, one w/ no bees or brood. This is how I was taught by fellow Apiary Inspectors some 25 years ago.
Bear handed, one smokes the entrance of the hive, remove the cover, smoke down thru the inner cover hole, crack open ther inner cover and smoke some more, remove the inner cover.
Remove the honey supers, if there are any, placing them across the cover so as not to squash any more bees than necassary. (many people like to stack the supers inside the cover so any honey that might drip doesn't end up on the ground. I think Michael Palmer prefers that method, but I am not sure about that.)
Once the brood boxes are uncovered, standing beside the hive, break the two deeps apart so as to loosen any burr comb from between the bottom bars and top bars of the upper and lower deep. Then, w/ the hook end of a standard hive tool, loosen the frames from each other and w/ the flat part break the side frames from the walls of the hive.
Remove the second frame. The frame closest to the wall usually is full of honey, not often occupied by brood. There are exceptions to all rules. If the second frame contains any brood or open cells here is where the actual search for AFB starts.
Holding the frame of brood w/ two hands and by the top bar, scan the surface of the caped brood looking at the color and condition of the cappings, especially any punctured caps. If one finds a punctured cap, using the corner of ones hive tool, further open the cell and see what resides inside. If a white pupae is present, move on. If a brown viscus liquid mass is found prepare to sample this, using a wooden match or a small twig. Stick you match into the cell, stir it around a couple of times and try to scrape the mass out of the cell. If you can, it isn't AFB. If the brown liquid acts like rubber cement and brakes off springing back into the cell, it's AFB.
Punctured cap w/ a brown viscus liquid that ropes, breaks off and springs back into the cell is 99% accurately diagnosed as AFB. For Lab confirmation, take the stick that you stirred the cell contents w/, place it on a piece of paper, wrap it up and send it to The Beltsville Bee Lab, Beltsville, Maryland. I don't have any better an address available at this time. Google it.
Say you have looked at the first comb and find nothing suspicious. Continue on thru the rest of the combs in that box. Some folks don't care for it, but I stand the frame I removed against the hive after shaking the bees off of it. As I look at the rest of the combs, I put them back in the box. When finished w/ the top brood box, I slide the eight frames back away from me and replace the frame which I first removed.
The next step is to check the bottom brood box. Sometimes this box will be pretty vacant of any brood. Check it anyway. If it contains capped brood, do as described above. If the combs are mostly empty, this is where you can practice looking for AFB Scale, the dried down mass, no longer liquid. If you have good/young eyes you might spot the pupal tongue.
Again, w/ the frame held w/ two hands, by the ends of the top bar, this time especially w/ the sun over your shoulder, tilt the frame away from you like a dosing rod, if you know what that looks like, so you can scan across the open cells looking for something unusually lumpy and black laying on the wall of a cell. Having sunlight shining down across the open cells helps your eye to really see the scale. It takes practice. It's also helpful to see someone do it. It's somewhat hard for me to describe.
If you find what you think is an AFB scale, you will have to cut some cells out of the comb and send them to Beltsville.
Everything I have described above pertains mostly to Worker Brood, not frames of Drone Brood. You can skip them, if you have them in your hives for mite control. It is a rare occurance to find AFB in drone brood. I have never seen it and I think there probably is some mechanism which prevents drones from getting AFB. Maybe someone knows.
If there is anything I forgot to mention or any clarification needed, let me know.
Oh, yeah, put the hive back together thwe way you found it. Wash your hive tools, hands and smoker bellows w/ a scrub brush and soapy water, after inspecting the yard and after finding each case of AFB. That's how I was taught.
Last edited by Barry; 09-04-2015 at 08:21 AM.
Reason: remove "Dr."
"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." Henry David Thoreau, Mark B