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  1. #1
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    Default Is European foul brood all that serious?

    I recently took an inspection class which was taught by our state apiary inspector. The instructor made the comment that if you have bees this year that you probably have European foul brood, and while looking at the material I realized that it has been fairly common in my bee yard since I started about 5 years ago - probably from my very first hive.

    The thing is it doesn't seem to make that much impact on hive performance even though I have never done anything to treat it or prevent spreading it. I've made good honey crops and had good success doing splits and even rearing some queens - although I think it may explain my disappointing 50 percent failure rates in getting queens mated and laying. Until this past winter I rarely lost a hive other than mating nucs which are by design small weak and queenless anyway. I have found hives recently which I am sure had efb infected open brood, but also had excellent patterns of both capped and open brood. Is that usual?

    When I read about efb on the web it is described as being a real plague type disease in Europe. Is it the same thing or what? Here it seems to be characterized as a stress induced condition that often just goes away when a good flow starts - which is what I seem to have experienced.

    It the future I will at least take more care to prevent spreading it between hives, but I would like to eradicate it and learn to control it - without antibiotics.

    I would like to hear from some experienced people - what is your opinion on how serious efb is?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    By all accounts it has gotten much more prevalent in recent years. It seems to be exacerbated when hives are stressed by a lack of nectar and/or pollen. Terramycin still does a good job of controlling it and a "per label" treatment of those hives will probably yield a noticable boost from its use. On the other hand, if you wish to minimize your treatments or you are not in a "treatment window" (6 weeks prior to a surplus honeyflow I believe is the label) most bees will most likely eventually overcome it though some may get weakened to the point where you might lose the hive. Its one of those classic treatment/non-treatment arguments that will never be agreed upon by all.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Aberdeen, Idaho
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    530

    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    Seconding what Jim posted. We moved an apparently healthy nuc from the nuc box that they over wintered in to a 10 frame hive and the EFB just exploded. It went from being undetected to a few dead larvae one week to absolutely no healthy larvae the next week. We treated with teramyacin and that hive is now just exploding with brood, and may actually make a box of honey by fall. Before we got it re-queened and turned around the poppulation dropped to pitiful numbers.
    Dave

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    I was told that creating a brood break by caging the queen inside the hive - or requeening the hive would both clear it up. I can see how a brood break could work, but i don't understand how simple requeening would make any difference - unless the queen is a vector for the disease. Will those things actually work.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    The fact that through hygenic behavior some bees are able to ward off some brood diseases dosent exactly mean that the disease is the fault of a poor queen, as the new queen may or may not be an improvement. I hear the same thing about chalk brood and I have always thought that it is a bit of a reach to blame that on the queen as well. Seems to me like EFB is as prevalent post brood break with a brand new queen as any other time. I think a real critical eye would prove that there is more EFB around than people realize, it just dosent get noticed much in larger hives unless you are really looking for it.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  6. #6
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    May 2002
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    San Mateo, CA
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    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    I had a few hives recover with treatment this year, a few languish, and a few die. I melt the combs from the ones that die. I track the combs of the ones that recover. I had a swarm choose an EFB box.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    I'm sure you are correct. I've always been a bit worried about seeing yellowish brood, I used to think that a frame of open brood that was a slightly creamy color was normal, but upon close examination with the aid of magnification i can see the other signs of efb now that i know to look.

    Here's the thing if you don't see any other symptoms and the hive is strong does it even matter other than not spreading it?

  8. #8

    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    Here's the thing if you don't see any other symptoms and the hive is strong does it even matter other than not spreading it?
    Every parasitic pressure on your bees adds to their stress. If it were EFB alone, then without overt symptoms it might not matter. But add the pressure of varroa, tracheal, small hive beetles….and on and on…..and the cumulative pressures take their toll. EFB included. Does that mean you should do something? Not necessarily…but never think because it isn’t rampant that it doesn’t contribute to the bee colony’s load.

    I’ve seen what I believe was a persistent EFB. Treated with terramycin it ‘disappeared’ but returned the next year. I’ve seen it spread through a yard…with everybody all spotty and only able to hold their own….barely. And I’ve seen it as a background stressor with mostly good looking patterns with an occasional round of off colored larvae.

    Does it scare me? No. Does it get my attention? Doggone right it does....every time.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    I had a few hives recover with treatment this year, a few languish, and a few die. I melt the combs from the ones that die. I track the combs of the ones that recover. I had a swarm choose an EFB box.
    Isn't the bacteria that causes efb quite fragile? I was told that sunlight will kill it.

    Beemandan - "Every parasitic pressure on your bees adds to their stress. If it were EFB alone, then without overt symptoms it might not matter. But add the pressure of varroa, tracheal, small hive beetles….and on and on…..and the cumulative pressures take their toll. EFB included. Does that mean you should do something? Not necessarily…but never think because it isn’t rampant that it doesn’t contribute to the bee colony’s load."

    I'm sure that is true. It all adds up and eventually another straw breaks their back.

    Btw - I heard that screened bottom boards help to prevent efb expression. Any truth to that?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Gainesboro, Tennessee, USA.
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    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    Going along the same lines as David's post, I prefer not treating EFB and my concern with using antibiotics is the fact that diseases and mites can be made stronger by treatment especially with improper treatment. (like the early varroa mite treatments the mites are immune to now.)

    Maybe this is why all beekeepers should breed from their best stock so as to also create more genetics that can take tougher amounts of disease and viruses.

    Just some thoughts I had.

  11. #11
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    Nov 2011
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    Johnson City, TN
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    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    I had a couple hives get it a couple years ago, put some terramycin patties in there. It cleared it up have had no problems since, those two hives are still going. I had screened bottom boards at the time. I treat them when they need it, and no I don't have to keep giving them chemicals all the time as some say.
    All beekeepers can agree on one thing, and that one thing is, that all beekeepers can't agree on one thing.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    I'm not at all against the pragmatic use of antibiotics other than they are really easy to misuse. Consider myself - usually my body fights off infection on it's own - great. But sometimes something is serious enough or persistant enough that antibiotics are called for. Usually they make me sick by upsetting the internal ecology. And i know that there is the danger of under treating and leaving behind a more virulent strain, or over treating and wiping out the beneficials - thus ending up with something like c-dif.

    Getting the treatment right in order to prevent doing harm might be above my ability so i personnally would rather learn to exercise all other options first. It's tempting though to just slap on the tmc and be done with it. If that really is how it works.

    Also this - i think antibiotic free is probably a real plus in marketing locally produced honey.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    I can see both sides of this one. The simple fact that efb, at the moment, is easily controlled by Terramycin which is approved, inexpensive and widely available pretty much guarantees that its going to get used.....a lot. Its also noteworthy that efb has been around a long time but has only recently began to be much of a problem. Resistance? Perhaps. Its interesting to note that AFB was arguably at plague levels in some areas 30 + years ago. Almost all beekeepers treated and treated heavily in those days. Mostly with Terramycin but for a brief time with sulfathiazole. I dont hear a lot about afb today and havent personally seen a case in maybe 10 years. Which was coincidentally (or maybe not) about the time tylan came into use. It is also interesting to note that according to many reports EFB nearly wiped out beekeepers in the British Isles, decades ago but has never had that sort of impact in the US. I am not trying to make any sort of argument here just giving facts as I know them and have experienced them.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    So what do responsible proffesional bee keepers do to manage efb? Non-drug preventative actions, preventative antibiotics, or treat infected hives? Or something else? If the flow is about to start, nucs are almost ready for sale, or you are about to go to pollination - and your living depends on it... I doubt if many would just hope it goes away on its own.

    I would like to understand as many effective options as possible.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    I had lots of trouble with efb last year in both late winter and early spring and during the summer nectar dearth (40 hives and nucs). Some hives had extremely persistent cases and would relapse within a month of cessation of treatment. This malady can kill your hive by march or in August after a few week nectar dearth. I treated with extender patties in August and september and dusted with duravet every week from mid january-march 1. All die-out combs and empty combs from infected hives were fumigated with acetic acid. So far I have no confirmed relapses but I do have one that either had efb show up or had some brood chilled. (sometimes chilled brood looks the same as efb.)but I will treat with extender patties when the nectar runs out this summer.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    As I understand it, efb bacteria compete with the larva for food inside the larva. As I understand it, Terramycine does not kill the bacteria but it keeps it from multiplying. I do not know what happens to the bacteria that survives in the bee into adulthood. If the bees can feed the larva enough, efb can be present but not kill the larva. One way to prevent efb outbreaks is to keep the bees well fed. Efb will show up when bees cannot forage enough, when the hive is too out of balance with too many young bees and not enough foragers and during nectar dearths. Having watched hives with high infection levels relapse over and over I assume that the treatments are not effective if the bees aren't treated long enough to cover bacteria that is on the combs in honey, wax and cocoons. The only other possibility is for the population of bees to increase significantly enough that they can clean out infected larva early enough to keep bacteria inside the gut of the dead larva from overwhelming the hive.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim B View Post
    II treated with extender patties in August and september and dusted with duravet every week from mid january-march
    What are your extender patties? Duravet?
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  18. #18
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    Apr 2009
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    Murray County, Georgia
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    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    I use the following formula except with duravet. Extender patties work better than dusting during the summer because they tend to feed on them better and can dose themselves daily. If the hive is too weak in the winter they won't take the patty so dusting every 4-7 days is preferable.

    Bill Wilson's Original Formula : This formula for extender patties
    requires two tablespoons (30 ml) of TM 25 per one pound of mix (1/3 lb.
    vegetable shortening and 2/3 lb. granulated sugar) to make two half pound
    patties that should last about 6 weeks.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    I'm still not sure what duravet is.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  20. #20
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    Apr 2009
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    Murray County, Georgia
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    Default Re: Is European foul brood all that serious?

    It is the current label for oxytetracycline on the market at most of the feed stores and tractor supply.

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