I have a colony of Italian mutts that made it through the winter, but now they're struggling. Yesterday I found what I think is sac brood (morator aetatulas). Uncapped pupae in a few places were slumped, like little sacks of soft milky fluid, on the down side of some cells. Not a lot of cells. When I poked a few of the sacks with a slim bit of twig, they broke open. The fluid was not ropey or smelly. I was in the hive mainly to do a sugar roll (planning to do that through the whole year) and I got zero mites from 4oz of bees. The suspected sacbrood was in small sections on one frame. (Sorry, no pics. I may go in and get some pictures later.) The brood pattern was somewhat scattered, and perhaps there was some hygienic behavior that had cleared out other cells in the area.
The web shows differing levels of concern about sacbrood (if that's what it is):
http://www.agnet.org/library.php?fun...20110802103101 ("a contagious disease which causes major damage to the bee-keeping industry")
http://www.bee-vet.co.uk/diseases/br...ood/index.aspx ("rarely causing much harm ... Relatively few larvae are infected in the colony and generally no treatment is required.")
So I wonder about my options:
- Do nothing, and hope they can clean it up and outpace it
- Keep the queen, but break the brood cycle (how?)
- Re-queen the colony
One maneuver I'm considering is a CCMiller-type split — put the queen on open drawn comb in a box where the hive was, and move the original hive with all the nurse bees and brood to another location. Foragers return to the empty box, some of them take up nursing duties, and with their queen they start a new colony. The other bees make an emergency queen, or...
A variation on this maneuver gets complicated. It's a product of my specific situation. I have a Top-Bar Hive that did fantastically well over the winter. Yesterday I discovered they have 4 capped Queen cells and 5 uncapped nearing completion (I'm guessing the first virgins will emerge in 5-7 days.) I already split the TBH colony, but it feels like there's more queen cells than are needed by the queenless part of the TBH split.
So: I can cut off 2-3 capped queen cells and add them to the hive with sacbrood that gets moved away without their queen.
- What's the best timing for this sort of maneuver?
- Would this approach help to resolve the sacbrood problem? (by breaking the brood cycle for the old queen, and introducing a new queen to the rest of the colony)
Part of my problem is that I'm mixing Langs with the TBH. The sacbrood is in a Lang. If I want to introduce the queen cell(s) to a Lang from a TBH, I've heard I can cut the cell off of the top-bar comb (very carefully, of course, and maybe with a section of the surrounding comb) and pin it onto comb in the Langstroth.
Assuming that I go ahead and do this, what's the best timing for moving the queen cell to a queenless colony?
I realize I'm piling together three or four different issues, and maybe I should post separately about each of them (or hunt for examples where they've been discussed before). But if anyone wants to tackle any or all of these questions, I'd appreciate some input. I guess I have a few days to sort this out. The weather here is getting steadily warmer. Right now: Lows in the upper 40s and highs in the 60s. Hopefully in a week or so, when the virgins are flying, lows in the lower 60s and highs in the 70s. There are drones around. (My TBH started producing drones 3-4 weeks ago, and others report that they have drones.)