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  1. #1
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    Default Sacbrood - what options? ("It's complicated")

    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:

    1. Do nothing, and hope they can clean it up and outpace it
    2. Keep the queen, but break the brood cycle (how?)
    3. 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.

    Two questions:
    1. What's the best timing for this sort of maneuver?
    2. 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.)
    Beekeeping - a form of magic that weaves together two elements: wood and bees.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sacbrood - what options? ("It's complicated")

    I would say post some pictures.
    Send sample for testing its free.
    EFB is very common especially this time of the year.
    Here's some links with pictures for you to look at.

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...Laying-Workers

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...g-on-with-this

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Sacbrood - what options? ("It's complicated")

    There is no treatment for sac brood. I never saw any until Varroa came along (just pictures in a book) and then I started seeing people with stressed out hives that had sacbrood. It is a virus. I'm pretty sure it's being spread by the Varroa.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Sacbrood - what options? ("It's complicated")

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    I would say post some pictures.
    Send sample for testing its free.
    Here are two pictures. The second one shows the missing 2"x2" section that I'm sending to Beltsville.

    sac1.jpg sac2.jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    There is no treatment for sac brood. I never saw any until Varroa came along (just pictures in a book) and then I started seeing people with stressed out hives that had sacbrood. It is a virus. I'm pretty sure it's being spread by the Varroa.
    I went into the hive to sugar roll for varroa mites, and counted zero from 4 oz of bees from this colony. Another nearby colony got a count of four, so there are definitely some around. The hive has been struggling in the last month or so. It was pretty active coming out of winter.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Sacbrood - what options? ("It's complicated")

    According to my state bee inspector, if sacbrood does not clear up on its own the best option is to requeen.
    Zone 4a/b

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Sacbrood - what options? ("It's complicated")

    It looks just like EFB, and it looks like an extreme case.
    >was in small sections on one frame.
    Your arrows are pointing to the right places, it's not just limited to that section the whole frames shows that it's been going on for a while by how spotty it is. Just now they don't have as many bees to clean out the cells which they usually do right away.
    How is your population, are they dwindling?
    What's your other frames look like, same?

    The lab results will take 1-2 weeks, I wouldn't wait to treat, time is critical. As it looks from the one frame it's going to be hard, but it's always worth a try.

    Go through every link I posted on the two threads from above.
    I have helped a lot of people here on beesource identify and recover some bad cases of EFB.
    Let me know if you need anything.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Sacbrood - what options? ("It's complicated")

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    It looks just like EFB, and it looks like an extreme case.

    Your arrows are pointing to the right places, it's not just limited to that section the whole frames shows that it's been going on for a while by how spotty it is. Just now they don't have as many bees to clean out the cells which they usually do right away. How is your population, are they dwindling? What's your other frames look like, same?

    The lab results will take 1-2 weeks, I wouldn't wait to treat, time is critical. As it looks from the one frame it's going to be hard, but it's always worth a try.
    So in my original post, I outlined the set of steps I was considering, to requeen the hive via a capped Queen cell, and put it in a new location. If they die...

    When people talk about requeening for sacbrood (which this may not be, I realize), is that because the queen is infected and is introducing it as she goes along?

    My thought was to try and salvage her by putting her in a nuc on drawn comb, and put that where the hive is now so the foragers can join her and maybe get up a new colony. It's a technique for 'increase' that CC Miller explained and some in our beek association are using. Not meant for disease control, so I'm sort of taking it out on a limb.

    In answer to your questions, yes, a lot of the diseased brood may have been cleaned out leaving the very spotty pattern. The population has been dwindling. And honestly, I didn't look at the other frames as closely. Didn't see any of those slumped sacs of white jell, but I'm sort of a newbee and the brood pattern etc didn't register with me.

    I have helped a lot of people here on beesource identify and recover some bad cases of EFB. Let me know if you need anything.
    Thanks! I guess I'm willing to see the hive go down, but I'd like to do what I can. I think we had a touch of EFB maybe two years ago (?) and the bees got over that as the flow came in full force. Maybe it's residual from that? I make lots of stupid mistakes and, stupidly, I don't always learn enough from them.

    Whatever we do in the next few days or a week, we will have the lab results eventually, so at least in retrospect we'll know what it is...

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Sacbrood - what options? ("It's complicated")

    >I was considering, to requeen the hive via a capped Queen cell, and put it in a new location.
    Requeening can also work for EFB, The brood break give the bees a chance to clean it up, and new genetics may help to prevent it.
    I have had mild cases where they take care of it themselves. And some that even with treatment could not. Also have re-infected swarms with comb that had EFB in it and was fumigated with 80% acidic acid.

    Sacbrood is a virus. I believe it is very rare. Have not seen any cases of it on beesource either.
    Your picture do not look like sacbrood; perforated caps, brood dies mostly after it is capped. Your arrows are pointing towards uncapped dead larva.

    There is a shook swarm method for treating EFB.
    OTC treatment alone there with be 21% reoccurrences with shook swarm and OTC there is a 4.8% reoccurrences. I don't know the percent for shook swarm only.
    Google "shook swarm method EFB" EU and AU do this a lot. They take EFB more serious than the US, they also burn/destroy EFB hives, they may also have worse out breaks.

    You have several options.
    1. Lets the hive die (which does no one any good could also spread)
    2. Destroy the hive.
    3. Feed lots of syrup hope that is clears.
    4. Cage/pinch the queen replace her (new genetics).
    5. OTC treatment
    6. Shook swarm
    7. Wait and see what happens
    8. A combination of any of the above

    By the picture you posted I would say it's a bad case that needs to be address right away.

    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/tag/randy-oliver/
    "There has also been a strong resurgence of European Foulbrood and other unidentified brood diseases [7] (Figs. 6, 7, and 8). Unlike EFB of old, the new forms don’t go away with a nectar flow."

    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/sick...pse-revisited/
    Randy Oliver treated with Duramycin

    I would treat, dust and syrup. Replace the queen from a hive that did not have any symptoms.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Sacbrood - what options? ("It's complicated")

    Sac brood was around long before Varroa. I'm just saying Varroa is a method by which it can spread and when I've seen it it was probably due to Varroa.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Sacbrood - what options? ("It's complicated")

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    > I was considering, to requeen the hive via a capped Queen cell, and put it in a new location.

    Requeening can also work for EFB, The brood break give the bees a chance to clean it up, and new genetics may help to prevent it. [...]

    You have several options.
    1. Let the hive die (which does no one any good could also spread)
    2. Destroy the hive.
    3. Feed lots of syrup hope that is clears.
    4. Cage/pinch the queen replace her (new genetics).
    5. OTC treatment
    6. Shook swarm
    7. Wait and see what happens
    8. A combination of any of the above

    By the picture you posted I would say it's a bad case that needs to be address right away.
    Well, I almost decided to treat. Got to the point of ordering some meds, but it's kind of expensive for my small apiary...

    So back to Plan A (see above). Maybe it's closest to #6 above, the "shook swarm"?

    On Wednesday I did what I'm calling the CCMiller split. The last president of our Beek group explained it, more or less as I've explained above. I put the queen on empty drawn comb in a box in the location where the entire colony was, and moved the rest of the colony to a new location. Strictly, the CCMiller split says you let the breakaway colony raise their own queen from what they've got, but I put a couple of capped queen cells in, and we'll see how they do. It'll be a short break in the brood cycle. There was actually a lot of other brood in the colony, not visibly affected by this disease. So the numbers will be good, I'm hoping, for awhile. If the queen cells don't produce laying queens in a couple of weeks, we can consider other options.

    Today I went into the home location where the Queen is. At the peak of the foraging day, there were lots of bees coming and going, and about 3-4 frames inside covered with bees. Two frames of comb with eggs in them. So we'll see how that turns out. I'm glad to have tried, at least, to salvage the queen. If we can beat this disease, I'd like to keep her genetics in the apiary.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Sacbrood - what options? ("It's complicated")

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    It looks just like EFB, and it looks like an extreme case.
    The results are back from Beltsville, MD (they took as long as you said), and it's confirmed European Foul Brood. (It's not Sac Brood, in other words.)

    I did move the hive to another location, leaving the queen on open drawn comb in the original spot. The foragers came back, some took up nursing duties, and we now have 4-5 frames that the queen has filled with a new generation of bees.

    I requeened the (EFB-infested) hive that had lost their queen, giving them a couple of queen cells. One hatched out through the cap, the other was murdered (I suppose) from the side of the cell. I'll see if the new queen starts laying in the next week or so, and give them a few weeks to recover, after this short brood break and with a lot of brood that was in the hive when I moved it. (The EFB affected only a fraction of the frames that had brood, in a really obvious way.)

    So my main question now is how to eliminate the residual infection -- without medication. I can shake these bees onto clean foundation, with their new queen and in clean boxes, extract whatever honey they collected, and/or sterilize all the old equipment. That would be Plan A. I'm trying to think what are the different approaches and options.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Sacbrood - what options? ("It's complicated")

    Unless you have access to irradiation, I don't believe there is a confirmed method to sterilize equipment. Acetic acid fumigation or chlorine wash may sterilize the frame, but not the comb. You would have to sacrifice the drawn comb (beeswax). Like FlowerPlanter, I've had frames of drawn comb from hives that "cleared up" EFB through feeding, requeening, and treating with OTC, infect hives the frames were given to later. I also had a hive become infected robbing honey from a hive that died (that had "recovered" from EFB the previous summer, only to perish in March, and then get robbed by the uninfected hive). There are lots of opinions on here about getting EFB cleared up, but my experience is that it was not eliminated, and will reoccur during stress (dearth, spring build up) and is contagious in the brood food, honey and/or comb for quite some time.
    Fidalgo Island
    Sea level, Puget Sound, USDA 7a-7b

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Sacbrood - what options? ("It's complicated")

    Quote Originally Posted by rsjohnson2u View Post
    Unless you have access to irradiation, I don't believe there is a confirmed method to sterilize equipment. Acetic acid fumigation or chlorine wash may sterilize the frame, but not the comb. You would have to sacrifice the drawn comb (beeswax). Like FlowerPlanter, I've had frames of drawn comb from hives that "cleared up" EFB through feeding, requeening, and treating with OTC, infect hives the frames were given to later. I also had a hive become infected robbing honey from a hive that died (that had "recovered" from EFB the previous summer, only to perish in March, and then get robbed by the uninfected hive). There are lots of opinions on here about getting EFB cleared up, but my experience is that it was not eliminated, and will reoccur during stress (dearth, spring build up) and is contagious in the brood food, honey and/or comb for quite some time.
    Thanks! That's a perfect summary of options and longer-term conditions that are rattling around in my head after reading a bunch of stuff. I'm thinking I can extract the honey, and as long as I keep the wax separate from the rest of my wax (which I do use sometimes in beekeeping), maybe I can find a way to sterilize the equipment. I do have access to irradiation, and until now I wasn't really paying close attention to that program. So I feel like I'm moving into a new league of beekeeping.

    I believe I did have EFB before, now that I know what it looks like. It did "clear up" once already, and it looks like it will again, but I don't want it to keep reoccurring year after year. And it affects everything I might be doing with other beekeepers, passing along equipment or whatever.

    Should I be sterilizing my hive tool, for example? Our local inspector, the one time he came through, was careful to tell me he sterilized his tools (wash with alcohol, I think) from each site to the next, and he gave me an option to let him use mine instead. The full significance of that bit of protocol makes even better sense.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Sacbrood - what options? ("It's complicated")

    I would sterilize my hive tool in alcohol or flaming smoker. I, like some others, believe EFB has changed. It may no longer be a feed/flow and requeen protocol. Just last season I was reading threads on here about giving infected frames to strong colonies to clean up. I ended up with three infected hives, from frame transfer, hive tool, drift and robbing.
    Fidalgo Island
    Sea level, Puget Sound, USDA 7a-7b

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