mike syracuse ny
Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan
since m. plutonius is anaerobic to slightly microaerophilic one wouldn't expect it to survive very long when exposed to air. i'm guessing that unless the bacteria happens to be at the bottom of a cell containing honey or beebread it wouldn't be able to survive on 'dry' comb.
at least that's my hope with the 300 or so frames of the completely empty comb that i've washed, bleached, and now have in dry storage.
i'm still coming up short as far as locating a study in which the survivability of m. plutonius on comb has examined. do you recall where you saw the 2 year time frame mentioned?
journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives
As you may know I had an EFB catastrophe this spring, with 18 of 20 hives hit simultaneously with EFB in early May. Thinking I had only a case or two I began euthanizing (the surest way of preventing spread) until I realized they ALL had EFB, and if I kept euthanizing I would be bee-less this year, and lose the queen line we have been working on, such as it is.
So, following the advice of the National Bee Unit in the UK, I decided to do the medicate-shook swarm-medicate protocol. In that process, for which you must obtain a source of oxytetracycline, and a fresh or disinfected set of equipment for each colony about to undergo treatment, you lose all your brood and all your stores (neither of which can be disinfected). All woodenware must be disinfected and the only option I had was scraping and bleach baths. I bought all new frames and foundations and am disinfecting every piece of woodenware I own as I cannot be sure they are not also infected. I could not do spring nuc sales, my honey harvest was severely reduced, and I had to take a pass on my usual queen rearing window (June).
My friend Tim was a huge help: all shook swarms were completed by May 22, after which the bees got a feeder full of oxytet in syrup. Today we did our first post-treatment health inspections (I had been dragging my feet, dreading the day of reckoning...). And he came over today to help me do the health checks on 18 colonies.
I am freakin' relieved and grateful that all the hives were disease free. This suggests three things:
1. the medicate-shook swarm-medicate protocol is, when the EFB is not resistant to oxytet, effective
2. whatever source infected the apiary in May is now gone (no reinfection in the month the bees have been off meds)
3. the stress of shook swarming, which must surely be one of the most extreme stresses you can put on your bees, did not predispose them to getting a second dose of EFB
Other points of interest:
-hives of 6 frames or more rebounded with incredible speed, drawing out all the bare foundation and laying up multiple frames with brood within a week. I was really shocked at the vigour of the rebound. Note they were fed pollen sub and syrup to help them through this period.
-three of the colonies swarmed within a month-6 weeks of being shook swarmed...I was not really expecting that so early after the shook swarming, so was lax on my inspection schedule. Happily we are left with a bunch of queen cells to raise out in mating nucs....and one hive already has a returned laying queen hard at work.
-most of the larger colonies made a honey crop, which was something I really did not expect. None were very large colonies as the blackberry approached, only two were even close to being strong 10 frame colonies (and were the only ones that got a honey super...the rest filled up a deep given to them as they were due for expansion).
-two or three of the hives should now be split (the ones that swarmed split themselves...). That is also a surprise.
-colonies raising open queen cells during active EFB infection failed to requeen...presumably the EFB also killed the queen larvae
-You can remediate colonies with EFB...it is a lot of work and expense, but if the infective source is removed, the hives can be cured. If it is early enough in the year you can even aspire to some honey and even some increase.
-shook swarming before the honey flow gave us a lot of well drawn, brand new comb.
-shook swarming before the honey flow seemed to light a fire under the colonies, which boomed with brood and went mad gathering nectar...perhaps something to exploit in years to come?
-will the EFB incident affect overwintering?
-should we requeen the entire apiary? ( I plan to do a queen run from the best of the queens in two weeks...all to replace the 2018 queens)
I can have all my drawn but empty comb irradiated. But your bleaching and rinsing should be effective. Leaving them to dry, exposed to sunlight (natural UV) should help.
FWIW I think providing drawn comb is highly overrated! So you may want to ditch what you have and push the bees to draw new in your next nectar flow via the shook swarm method:
The purpose of this post is to correct one of my previous statements, and to also give an (probably final) update.
In one of my previous posts, I indicated no evidence of brood toxicity from terra-pro OTC application. I believe at this point I have in fact seen some evidence of toxicity, the issue is that the symptoms look quite similar to EFB - vertical larva becoming discolored, or larva dis-formed in cells uncapped. Perhaps this is in fact EFB not toxicity - I cannot say without testing again. Bottom line is that I've found the liberal application of terra-pro throughout the entire hive to be extremely effective at reducing EFB, but it does appear that toxicity can occur. Unfortunately, the toxicity to OTC looks similar to EFB - so perhaps I was seeing false-positive EFB for the last week (or it was a combination of both).