Can't stop the EFB.
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  1. #1
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    Default Can't stop the EFB.

    Two years ago I had my first encounter with FB after noticing the warming signs and doing the "matchstick" test. I quickly sent in samples to the USDA and purchased test kits, multiple, to test and double test my issue.

    All test came back as EFB.

    I got a VFD from my local vet and ordered Terra-Pro as this is what my research pointed me to. Had I gotten in a year earlier I would have been able to get Terramycin directly.

    That same year I harvested as much honey as I could, cut out old comb from infected hives and burned it, scorched all my equipment and of course used the Terra-Pro as directed. This seemed to get rid of the issue...

    ...until I saw it pop up again, the next year.

    I went through the whole song and dance again. It wasn't nearly as bad as the first year - probably because my paranoia caught it early. However, this winter I noticed it again as the bees are starting to build up. I absolutely hate using any antibiotic as it kills all the "good" stuff just as much as the bad and is probably making them more susceptible to getting it, or something else, due to poor cut flora.

    I just finished the treatment and have been adding several types of probiotics to the hives, mixed in with dry sugar - made for bees and following directions. So far, no more signs of EFB.

    The amount they had this year was very small but I'm hoping if I can get them healthy enough, and overwhelm them with "good bacteria" is may keep it from coming back.

    To note, I have never lost a hive over this and it has never gotten out of control. I feel my measures have been extreme but have obviously not worked. Also, not ALL my hives have gotten it. I have one hive in particular which is absolutely booming and has never received a treatment in it's life, EFB, varroa, or otherwise. I only treated when I saw a problem and not as a preventative - maybe that could be part of the issue?

    Could this be a case of bad genetics? Anything else I could have done or should do in the future?

    I'll be breeding the strongest hive this year in hopes those genetics will carry over to her daughters and I can rid my problem that way, but any input is appreciated.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    You should watch the National Honey Show lecture on EFB. Very informative. It turns out there are many strains and they respond to different treatments differently. The effectiveness of OTC has gone down with resistance. Shook swarm is more effective than OTC in most strains. With some, destruction is the only way. The vid is posted in this section. J

  4. #3
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    I would like to know where the natural reservoir is for the mellissococcis plutonius bacteria. How much trouble is it to prevent recontamination for the shaken bees? If it is harbored in the soil and ditches in my yard it seems quite a challenge with no guarantees.
    Frank

  5. #4
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    Mar 2018
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    Stevens Point, WI
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    Doing shook swarms have been shown to be HIGHLY successful in Europe to solve the EFB problem. I made a shook swarm funnel and box in part to deal with this should it arise.
    Help is here to never misplace that hive tool again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTqB0zcmhmQ

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Gainesboro, Tennessee
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    We have always dealt with EFB as a genetic problem. Eliminating and replacing queens that have significant Efb has worked great for us.
    Splitting a first year hive successfully https://youtu.be/ZfRTreQ-S9c

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tennessee's Bees LLC View Post
    We have always dealt with EFB as a genetic problem. Eliminating and replacing queens that have significant Efb has worked great for us.
    I agree. I've heard it said by many professionals that a queen that can't handle EFB isn't worth a cent.

    SADLY, the hives that first got it were the fancy "Saskatraz" which are suppose to be incredibly resilient to it, or able to deal with it...but I never had EFB until I tried the Saskatraz. Whether it's coincidence or chance, I don't know. What I do know is my hives I've had for 7 years, which I've raised locally from my strongest hives, did not and still do not show any signs. It's safe to say they are much more adapt to dealing with the problem that even the "name brand" queens. (Or at least the local strain of EFB which I may have)

    I've tried shaking them out, burning whole frames, scorching the hell out of boxes, new equipment, etc,etc. I've watched the mentioned video and have been at such a loss - decided to post it publicly.

    I fully expect the issue to vanish from sight - at least until the dearth hits. I'm really hoping the daughters of my survivor hives will be just as strong as they are and I can just requeen the "fancy" queens with my known and trusted local stock. That's if probiotics and other methods aren't able to keep the problem away in the first place.

    My wife had terrible bacterial infections and every doctor would give her more and more antibiotics which caused a whole lot of their own problems - only for the issue to return after some time. An Eastern Medicine Doctor, instead of putting her on antibiotics, put her on high quality probiotics. This actually solved the issue with the theory being that the constant flood of good bacteria is enough to out-compete the bad bacteria. This will be what I'm doing since the last round of treatment is complete. I'm hoping this theory works out and if not, requeened hives I shall have.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    I suspect the fancy Saskatraz queens could handle efb just fine where they are from. No guarantees importing stock as your pathogen environment is different. Make queens from those resistant.

  9. #8
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    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    Don't pass on the u tube advice above by;https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0B9...ature=youtu.be

    Don't know how you could get your's typed in the USA but the different success rates for different EFB types is both informative and scary.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  10. #9
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    Apr 2017
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    We got a very sunny and warm morning so I inspected all the hives.

    Not a single sign of EFB. Shiny white larvae, no damage to brood cappings, etc etc.

    I was also thinking about a few things, one being that I had been using EO. I know, I've read the research and have converted to not using them, but since EFB is a gut disease and I'd been using EO which have likely been weakening the bees/larva gut flora, I likely opened the door for it to spread - which may have been very much under control.

    This year will definitely be a year of health. Trying to give them good instead of trying to kill bad. Breeding my resistant queen should also really help solve any further issues.

    The Saskatraz queens are raised by OHB which is just north of me. I couldn't imagine the strain being that different from here to there? Yet, I am in CA and most of the countries bees come in this time of year. I'm shocked there aren't more problems such as hive beetles, with all the bees that are brought into the state.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    I heard a talk about efb and it seemed issues typically show up later in the year if my bad memory doesn't fail me. Requeening is certainly part of the solution. We have a radiating unit here in BC and I would certainly start to use it if efb or other brood disease started to make inroads.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post
    I heard a talk about efb and it seemed issues typically show up later in the year if my bad memory doesn't fail me. Requeening is certainly part of the solution. We have a radiating unit here in BC and I would certainly start to use it if efb or other brood disease started to make inroads.
    I've only ever noticed it in the winter/spring when the hive is attempting to build up - and cannot.

    I'm just glad it's not AFB and that I've been able to keep it at bay.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    Gamma irradiation of your equipment at a dosage of 15 KiloGrays will kill it off, on everything that is not metal, including drawn combs, and even in honey.

    But you say you have a mixed yard, and only treated the hives expressing the disease. That could very well be your perennial reservoir, as well as being a source of constant cross contamination with tools, clothing, etc.

    When I had EFB in the spring of 2017, I treated every colony, whether it expressed it or not. (I also used proper OTC, not Terra Pro.) I repeatedly moved my bees into new equipment, scraping off and burning the wax on every comb in every EFB-affected colony. (The gear has been in storage, awaiting a gamma radiation opportunity.). I was a fanatic about segregating all hive equipment and tools to just one single hive. I wore clean smocks over my hive jacket to work each colony. I changed nitrile gloves before touching each new colony. I never allowed any colony to swarm, and I have never made increase from any colony that had showed any sign of it within 12 months. I refused to allow visitors in my yard, except if they wore booties and my own coveralls, which stayed here. I stopped working and teaching in any one else's yard as soon as I was able. I always wore freshly laundered bee clothing whenever I visited another yard.

    I didn't think scorching would successful, so I didn't bother trying it. Most of the EFB-affected gear has been off the hives for more than 18 months. I may keep it out of service for another 12 months, as time is a factor in reducing the bacteria's pathogenicity.

    The second year, when I had only one colony express the disease, I chose to euthanize it, rather than allow it to be a reservoir. We'll see how things look this year, but I am hoping for the best. I started with 17 hives and I am down to only 5, so the first year took a terrible toll on my bees, completely wiping out one of my long-standing queen lines.

    I, too, feel EOs are part of the problem, and I never use them except as ingredients in the Dadant Winter Patty, which has the nasty-smelling HBH as a feeding stimulant.

    Where my EFB came from is a still-open question. None of the beekeepers within my foraging range have shown any signs of it. I know, because I have examined the yards of all but one of them. Perhaps I was exposed to it when I was still actively teaching beekeeping, which I finally decided to stop.

    Plans are now to finally get my gear irradiated at the correct KiloGray level. (A lower one is used for most irradiation projects, as that works for other diseases, including AFB.) If that goes forward as planned next month, I will probably do shook swarms on to the freshly irradiated equipment this spring, and perhaps just burn the equipment the remaining 5 hives are on now, even though they have shown no signs of it recently. I am that desperate to finally put it behind me.

    I am even planning on irradiating a few hundred pounds of clean wax blocks that I will use for adding wax to my irradiated foundation. I no longer even trust the wax supplied on the foundation by the manufacturer, or in the wholesale wax trade.

    If your problem recurs, I would consider shook swarms, another round of OTC on every colony in your yard. Use some level of the fanaticism I had for isolating each of the hives' equipment. And then irradiate the heck out of all your equipment. You will wind up with an entire duplicate set of stuff (I have a triplicate set as I was unable to get the gear to a proper facility last year, and had to buy even more new stuff.)

    As an aside, too many beekeepers claim to never have seen EFB. I think it is more common than believed - passing off as PSM and snotty brood.

    I have also read the varroa may be a vector for it, though in my apiary varroa is kept under fairly rigid control, so I discount that possibility in my case. It may have arrived here on a swarm I added the year before it reared its head. I would be extremely wary of taking in any swarm at this point, even though all my bee originated from swarms to this farm. When I read about people's enthusiasm for capturing swarms, and adding them to their yards and hives, it gives me chills.

    EFB, just plain sucks.

    Good luck to you and your bees.

    Nancy

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    Gamma irradiation

    EFB, just plain sucks.



    Nancy
    I think you posted it once b/4 but where in NY can you get the radiation done?? I have a couple of people that are interested, thanks
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    Ask Pat Bono; she brings her stuff down to NJ for irradiation. I would be interested also if there was a place in NY. And Nancy, that video that was posted from the National Honey Show on EFB/AFB and CBPV was good; the UK has a program of tracking the different strains of EFB. It’s interesting. Watch till the end. Deb
    Proverbs 16:24

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cloverdale View Post
    Ask Pat Bono; she brings her stuff down to NJ for irradiation. I would be interested also if there was a place in NY. Deb
    I don't think there is a place in NY, I know it was brought up by a couple of people at the Ags' and Markts question and answer show that NY should have one, would be a good investment if it were true about all the AFB that we are told we have.
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    Quote Originally Posted by wildbranch2007 View Post
    I don't think there is a place in NY, I know it was brought up by a couple of people at the Ags' and Markts question and answer show that NY should have one, would be a good investment if it were true about all the AFB that we are told we have.
    The irradiation would be used for EFB, n. cerana, CBPV, etc. in addition to all the AFB that is around. It’s there but I think most don’t report it. Deb
    You attending SABA this year?
    Proverbs 16:24

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    There is no place that I know in NY, only in southern NJ.

    The Montgomery County NJ Beekeeper's Assoc is putting on their once-a-year event on March 18th this year. See their website for details. You have to sign up in advance.

    They typically do not specify 15 KiloG radiation, so this is not good enough for EFB, only AFB and some other diseases. The higher dose costs more, and presents some additional issues with combs with honey (they leak/weep more, making a mess). I am not sure what level they plan to do this year - see the website for clarification on that.

    The other issue for me is the cost of the transportation, which is two round trips from north of Albany to south Jersey. This adds several hundred dollars to my cost as I would have to rent a truck, twice.

    The cost of radiation is much less than $200/pallet which can do up to 42 deeps/pallet. IIRC it's $178??, but don't quote me.

    Higher radiation (needed for EFB) and also one-day turn around service is available at additional costs. There is a minimum charge of 7 full pallets to do a run (except for the MontCo Beekeepers thing which is already aggregated to meet that quantity.)

    The high cost of transport is the main issue. I have two pallets worth of boxes.

    If there is interest among other eastern/central NYers for an EFB level (15KG) run, with a one day turn-around (to avoid double costs for transportation). Let's talk about that.

    We need to do it fairly early in the spring so as not to have contaminated gear being packed up at the irradiation site whern local bees are flying and might encounter it. There are very specific packing instructions, which I have.

    You cannot treat anything with metal, such as metal QeX. (Nails and screws in boxes are OK.) You can do pretty much everything else, including combs with honey.

    Nancy

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cloverdale View Post
    You attending SABA this year?
    I should some day, I just don't go to those things very often, although I'm going to the one this Sat. in Canidagua A friend got tickets for his birthday, he said I was the last one on his list, but no one else was available.
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    While radiation would certainly work. I doubt it's economical or accessible to your average guy, like myself with only a dozen or so hive bodies.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Can't stop the EFB.

    If you only have 12 hive bodies, does that mean you only have 12 hives? What about your supers, bases, and inner and outer covers. Plus all ancillary equipment, feeders, queen excluders, escape boards, plus frames and combs? Any piece that has been on a hive during an EFB outbreak is contaminated. Moving any of those pieces to another hive contaminates all the pieces in that one, too.

    That's the tricky part - it's all or nothing. Efforts to clean or scorch only parts of the entire hive are a waste of time.

    Figuring in the cost of a full pallet which can hold up to 1500 lbs and up to 42 10-frame deeps, the per box cost (each filled with its full complement of frames) is less than $4.50 apiece for the radiation. No way you can replace a 10-frame deep and 10 drawn frames for $4.50. You have to add on the cost of transportation, of course, and that's my problem.

    If you can find a program somewhere within driving distance, a pick-up truck could haul your stuff there and pack. People with less than a full pallet of stuff in NJ can either elect to share a pallet with someone else, or just pay the fee for the whole pallet to keep their stuff by itself.

    My problem is a) we only drive sedans, so no truck and b) I have a lot of stuff so I'll have to rent a truck and drive the 500-mile round trip distance, twice. I would expect to pay less than $400 for the radiation, but about another $1100 just for the trucking.

    But even then, it's STILL CHEAPER than destroying all my gear. Roughly 100 boxes, 600 frames, and nearly 30 full sets of other stuff: bases, covers, shims, feeder, quilt boxes, excluders, snelgroves, escapes, etc. $1500/100 boxes (just the empty boxes by themselves, never mind the rest of the stuff) is only $15 each, which is about the replacement cost of average -quailty unassembled boxes. My equipment is already assembled, painted with high-quality paint, and all of it is the old 7/8ths thick Betterbee woodenware.

    I would use your state contacts to see if you can find an irradiation site near you. It's not a state program, but they may know which of the commercial gamma facilities is working with clubs or other groups to do a run with bee equipment in it and try to see if you can piggyback on that.

    Last month the majority of all the managed bees in the US were in CA for the almonds - it seems unlikely there is no irradiation capacity in the entire state.

    There are seven locations in CA of the company (Sterigenics) that does the gamma irradiation in NJ. Not all locations of the company do gamma irradiation, and not all may be set up to run loads of bee-equipment. But I'm betting that one or more does. Google and your phone may help you find what you need. Here in the East, I know Sterigenics works with beekeepers in both NJ and FL and maybe elsewhere, too.

    Nancy

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