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I had a bad experience this year in one of my apiaries where I used a package of bees to boost a lack-luster hive. I put newspaper over the brood box, put on an empty box, and shook the package onto the newspaper. The bees looked terrible. Deformed ans shriveled wings everywhere, and lots of crawling and stumbling bees. I wish I had removed or killed them at that point, but I didn't.

Fast forward through the season, 2 hives continually battled mites, despite all the treatments. But in November, I had ten hives going into winter, all with good stores. Now only one remains. In December, I took one failing cluster and put the remaining bees in my observation hive, kind of a hail-Mary/learning experience.

Those bees were heavily infested with mites, immediately obvious visually. The queen was weirdly clumsy. I have kept Obs Hives before, and I've never seen a queen stumble or miss the target cell, or fall off the comb. So I treated with OAV which killed every mite in the hive. There was still some K-wings evident, greasy bees off to the side, etc. and I decided I was going watch this hive fail, as that was the clear outcome.

I saw one of the paralysis viruses paralyze the bees' back legs, then middle legs, wings, and front legs until those workers just lay on their backs hoping someone would feed them. It was gruesome to watch. The bees clearly suffered. The queen disappeared. I put in more brood donated by one of my healthy hives. Those bees hatched, remained mostly healthy for a while, and then they began to get sick. The bees made a new virgin queen, but in January, there is no hope. Now the hive has about 10 workers remaining, and I am going to euthanize them and burn the comb. Luckily, my hives in other locations are doing fine, so I can rebuilt.

All of this is to say that bee diseases can be brought in on packages, and perhaps the left-overs from almonds that get shaken into packages, might bring in more virulent strains of diseases not previously present in the area. Through drift and robbing, diseases can spread throughout the apiary. Now I am wondering how long the viruses remain on the old comb. Should I re-use the boxes or comb from those dead-outs? Should I rinse combs with bleach? And going forward, should I sterilize my hive tool(s) and change gloves when inspecting hives? How can I reduce drifting and robbing to avoid spreading viruses?

If you can recommend something, please tell me the source of the information you are working from. I find it helpful to research recommendations from the source. Thanks!
 

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Perhaps, but I think usually people inspect and pick up nucs. Are any shipped at all?
Few if any are inspected here at pickup. How is the inspection done at pickup without ciaos and leaving the field force
behind?
 

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Sorry to hear of the issues you had Ruthz.
A quarantine yard for new-comer bees can be a good idea if you have the resources for it.
 

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Few if any are inspected here at pickup. How is the inspection done at pickup without ciaos and leaving the field force
behind?
Open the nuc and pull one frame. Probably could tell if they were that bad without even pulling a frame. I suppose it would depend on how long they have been sealed up. If its a big operation I suppose its not practical and you depend on sellers rep. J
 

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Ruthz,

I am really sorry to hear of your troubles; I am struggling with a somewhat similar issue, but due to EFB.

Do you have equipment off the hive now? I note you are in MD, perhaps you might be interested in having it irradiated in southern New Jersey?

There is a program through the Montgomery Co, PA, Beekeeper's Association next Monday, March 12th, in Salem, NJ. I realize the notice is very short, but thought I'd throw is out anyway, since it only happens once a year.

See here for more info: https://www.montcopabees.org/services-resources/irradiation/

Gamma irradiation is effective at cleaning out some, but apparently not all, of the bee-viruses. But DWV is one of the ones it works on.

You should contact the project leader Mark Antunes (see link above for email.)

I have been planning on bringing my gear down from north of Albany, NY for some time now.

The idea that viruses like DWV apparently persist on combs is right on the cutting edge of recent bee research, so there isn't a lot out there, yet. In the link gww posted above there are further links to a recent study, etc.

In the case of DWV, I read that at least one researcher found that in addition to gamma irradiation, simply quarantining the affected combs and equipment for at least 30 days (in any temperature) might also reduce or eliminate the transmission of DWV from the combs. So that may be an option for you, as well. (But not for my EFB-contaminated gear, alas.)

It is extremely dispiriting to watch your bees get sicker and die, despite trying very hard to reverse the course.

Most springs I am eagerly looking forward to the start of another beekeeping year, but I confess to sort of dreading it this year. Because I don't know what I will find when I can pull frames and look at the brood, once again.

Nancy
 

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shook the package onto the newspaper. The bees looked terrible. Deformed ans shriveled wings everywhere, and lots of crawling and stumbling bees.
Probably a bit late now, but my advice at the time would have been take a photo or better still a movie, send it to the vendor and ask for a refund.

They may say no, but you could always try.

Selling such bees is not really ethical, but in a big outfit where working fast is what it's all about, with hired help and everything it can be missed that a hive is sick and it gets shaken into a package anyway. It does happen.

Here's a link to a video of making packages in Australia. You can see how if guys aren't looking too close a hive with DWV could be missed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJBHS3cUJoA
 

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Yes, the method is not as ideal as taking from the brood nest. But it is a common way packages are made in the bigger outfits, because it is so much faster than finding queens.

I didn't make that video or even know who it is, but usually when it's done like that, first excluders are put on the hives and a box of empty combs. Then the bees are smoked heavily in the entrance 2 or three times a minute or so apart each, and the hives are sometimes "drummed" with a rubber mallet.

This drives a good number of bees into the top box which is then shaken, as per the video. One advantage over taking bees from the brood nest, there won't be any drones.

If you get a package and there are no drones, likely this is the method used to harvest them.
 

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Probably a bit late now, but my advice at the time would have been take a photo or better still a movie, send it to the vendor and ask for a refund.

They may say no, but you could always try.

Selling such bees is not really ethical, but in a big outfit where working fast is what it's all about, with hired help and everything it can be missed that a hive is sick and it gets shaken into a package anyway. It does happen.

Here's a link to a video of making packages in Australia. You can see how if guys aren't looking too close a hive with DWV could be missed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJBHS3cUJoA
I believe a trukload of these perished on the way to Brisbane on a hot day. The orders for my nuc's went through the roof the week after.
Anyway, I'm all done for the season.

The last nuc went about ten days ago and I have started making more frames - Spring will come.
 

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The orders for my nuc's went through the roof the week after.
One mans poison is another mans meat ;)

Gotta say though, I'd rather be trying to move packages in the heat, than nucs. But looks like you had the skills to pull it off, Max.
 

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More and more I'm inclined to suggest dealing ruthlessly with failing colonies. One hive fails in the fall. Ten or fifteen in a line of 20 fail in the next spring or summer. Just about impossible to keep them from robbing out and spreading whatever pathogens are out there. I am pretty good at nursing the weak ones and can get them through but at some point they fail and get robbed out. The spread of pathogens to multiple other hives costs more than shutting down a failing hive. Then we make the mistake of spreading frames from deadout equipment around further passing around whatever pathogens caused the collapse. Probably better off to eliminate all equipment where signs of efb are seen and finish off unhealthy hives and deal with the equipment and combs before a nectar dearth and robbing.
 

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I tried 2 packages when I first started and they didn't do well. It was probably me that was the problem but anyway I started catching local swarms and they have done well enough that every year I give away several swarms. Before I hive a swarm I do a spraying of OA and then 7-8 days later do another treatment. A third treatment might be called for if the sticky board shows a big mite drop. I then treat in August and maybe April. If you have bees you also have mites.
 
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