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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Island county, Washington, USA
    Posts
    80

    Default Help! Sudden onset dysentery

    I went out to check on the one hive I have at home, a kTBH, and there's suddenly copious amounts of mustard color dysentery. A lot!! This is a three-year old hive. Although this is a very rainy cool climate, the bees have been foraging on good days and bringing in a lot of pollen for ~3 weeks. Today is sunny, 60F, and windy (15-20mph).

    There are no dead and/or crawling bees in front of the hive. Foragers are coming and going. As I watched, I saw 2 bees repeatedly defecating on the landing board and on the front of the hive. There's so much fecal matter that I saw several bees with their wings covered with it, although they themselves were not defecating.

    This hive has 4 small semi-circle entrances at the front. They normally use the 2 on the right. Those entrances were so thick with poop that bees coming and going were getting it all over themselves. I closed off those entrances so the bees would use the 'clean' entrances.

    What is happening????? I've NEVER seen this before! I've seen poop on the hive and landing board many times, but NOTHING like this!

    What should I do????????????????

    (They still have a lot of honey stores and are bringing in pollen, various colors. I haven't opened the hive, but there's a window on the side I can see in).


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,420

    Default Re: Help! Sudden onset dysentery

    Long as you have not fed them anything you shouldn't have, it's most likely nosema apis, but not nosema cerana.

    If the weather is OK plus they are flying and foraging freely, the hive will likely recover. However if there is as much poop as you say, it would be a good plan to clean it up some. Does your hive have a screened bottom board? If it does you could (carefully) use say, a garden hose and small brush, finish off by spraying some diluted bleach on the affected areas, and do it on a good day when it will dry out fast.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Island county, Washington, USA
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Help! Sudden onset dysentery

    Thank you Oldtimer. I have not fed them anything, they have plenty of their own honey and have been bringing in their own pollen. The climate here is cool maritime so it's mostly rain, sometimes partial sun (it's near Vancouver Is. BC, Canada). There are no sunny days forecast in the next week. I did try to clean the landing board with just water, as the bees were still foraging. It's 4pm now and they've mostly stopped, just a couple bees coming and going. Don't have access to a garden hose. All my other hives are out in various fields, but this is my 'home' hive. 'Home' is a tiny 2nd floor apartment and the hive is on a balcony barely large enough for a kTBH.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,420

    Default Re: Help! Sudden onset dysentery

    Oh I see. I didn't realise the weather was that bad for you, it is when bees are confined by bad weather that hives can die of n. apis, as they contaminate each other pooping in the hive.

    Cleaning with water, if it does not dry quickly, plus is not sterilised with bleach, may cause more bees to get infected. In your current weather conditions probably best to only do cleaning if you can see it will reduce bee contact with contaminated poop. I really only suggested it because in a small TBH type entrance, coated with poop, it's kind of a recipe for spread of infection, and something radical like cleaning may help, done the right way.

    But what really helps hives with n. apis is good weather, so they can poop outside, and the hive cleans up. Coarse, you don't control the weather.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Pottstown, Pennyslvania, USA
    Posts
    288

    Default Re: Help! Sudden onset dysentery

    I'm going to get ready to be grilled, but how about feeding some Fumagilin-B? That's what I would do with a situation like this.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,420

    Default Re: Help! Sudden onset dysentery

    That's what everybody is thinking, but nobody can say, because the question was not asked in the general forum.

    Having said that though, I've never fed drugs to bees, and have not lost a hive to n apis, probably because of our mild winters. Your harder winters, are a different matter. But as the bees in question are now able to get out, their survival without drugs is possible, although not guaranteed, IMO it's weather dependant for them at this stage, unless drugs are used. Me though, I wouldn't use drugs, but they're not my bees.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Island county, Washington, USA
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Help! Sudden onset dysentery

    Yes, the drug part crossed my mind, but I posted in the treatment-free forum because I have never treated any of my hives. And don't have any treatments available.

    Due to our weather, I see poop on the hives sometimes, but it's never been an issue. Just a short temporary thing that goes away. However, I've never seen a sudden onset, and so much, like I saw today. They weren't flying yesterday, or this morning, because of heavy rain, but this is normal weather for them. They are frequently confined for a a day or two, or a few, and then fly when they can but I don't see dysentery like I did today. (That first happened suddenly early afternoon when the winds calmed, sun came out, and bees started flying).

    I didn't use a lot of water to clean up the poop, just a moist paper towel to get the most off quickly as possible.

    Right now it's calm and 50F (10C) and will be light for a few more hours. Bees aren't flying but I took a quick look in the hive. I looked at the last comb (didn't want to disturb the bees by cracking propolis) and saw that the comb was half capped honey and half uncapped. The uncapped part was fermenting. It still smelled like nectar (not vinegar or alcohol) but it was bubbly in the cells. I'm guessing the combs near it also have some uncapped, fermenting nectar. But the other combs, nearer the broodnest, appear to still be fully capped from what I can see through the window.

    Could this have caused the sudden dysentery? Would bees eat fermenting nectar when they have plenty of capped stores? I only saw a few dead bees on the floor, no poop on the combs (that I could see) and no bad smells.

    I know I need to get that fermented nectar out of there, but the weather for the next week is going to be about the same, highs of 50F (10C) during the day and a little lower at night. Some breakthrough sun possible later in the week.......

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,196

    Default Re: Help! Sudden onset dysentery

    Quote Originally Posted by DPBsbees View Post
    I'm going to get ready to be grilled, but how about feeding some Fumagilin-B? That's what I would do with a situation like this.
    If you know you're going to get grilled, then why post it? I've had plenty of hives with dysentery that I've never resorted to treating. As already pointed out, there are factors at play here that can easily be managed to help a colony deal with it. Besides, Fumagilin-B doesn't cure dysentery.
    Regards, Barry

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