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Discussion Starter #1
I had some issues with foul brood (EFB) earlier this year and now I am smelling some questionable odors from some hives in another yard. I examined the hive and only found a very small number of perforated cappings with dead larva. However that characteristic odor was present. My question ( I tried to search this but found no definitive answer) pertains to whether I am just smelling dead brood or EFB? Does decaying brood put off an odor similar to EFB or should I be concerned about the possibility of a EFB infection? I'm unsure what to do since the hive appears healthy and the dead brood is minimal. Brood pattern is spotty but I think that is just where the laying cycle is currently. Population appears fine. Is there a trick to differentiate between natural cause dead brood (nurse bee shortage, faulty eggs, etc) and EFB?
 

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Once you get efb you only get rid of it until the next nectar dearth. As soon as a nectar dearth hits it comes back. If you don't treat your hive will be dead within six weeks. Folks who say it isn't a serious disease are mistaken.
 

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I disagree. It is absolutely no point of giving drugs against efb. Efb is caused by early summer circumstances, when there is lots of brood and too few nurse bees to take care of them, plus shortage of nectar and bad weather. Hives having efb should be kept very tight, no supering.
Efb has sour smell. Brood dies in open cells, lots of them, they are like lose sacks on the cellsides.

Afb has a smell of a old time woodglue. Brood die under the cappings. Holes in cappings and hard (to remove) dark scales of the late phase are typical.

I have very seldom if ever seen chilled brood, don´t know why.

(difficult to describe smells!)
 

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I'd have to see it and smell it myself, but if you can smell something that smells like decaying brood I'd consider burning the decaying brood frames. Can you describe the condition of the combs more/better, please? Are you seeing sunken caps? An oily look to the capped brood? What color are the unhealthy looking larvae, yellowish or brownish? Spottiness? Do you mean vacant cells or pinhole caps or perferated caps where it almost looks like the cell exploded? Pictures would be nice.

Thanks.
 

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If the sealed dead larvae/pupa is decomposing, does the liquid mass string out when mixed with a stick, or is the liquid a water/granular type? European Foulbrood mainly dies in open cells before capping, American Foulbrood dies after the cell is capped and the larvae straightens out in the cell, or just as it pupates.

IPBD, formerly called Parasitic Mite Syndrome, mimics both diseases, but the remains do not rope when mixed with a stick and the stick is slowly removed. Do a search on the USDA website fir honey bee diseases, they have good info on the brood diseases.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
There is no oily look to cappings of other cells. Also no sunken cells. The cells in question have pinpoint perforations suggesting that the nurse bees selected these cells to clean out. The unhealthy larva have a yellow tint and the larva that have progressed to decay and odor are a brown goopy mess (no AFB roping though). However the majority of the hive brood is healthy and the odor is not overwhelming. Just a faint whiff on opening the hive to get my attention. This suggests two things: Either the EFB is in the beginning stages or the bees are lacking nurses to sufficiently care for the brood resulting in the death of a few larva. Brood pattern is spotty but that may be due to current point of the brood cycle.
I have terramycin on hand. Should I treat? Also considering doing shook swarm. I have had success that method on previous outbreaks.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The brood gunk has the consistency of peanut butter, slightly granular and not runny at all.
 

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I'm certainly no expert on EFB, but as AR mentioned EFB will be seen before the cells are capped. I've seen EFB and it looks just like you see in the online pics. Are you seeing the classic twisted brown open brood consistent with EFB? That fact that you're seeing perforations in cappings may indicate some other problem. Perhaps others, more experienced with EFB can help you.
 

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I have more experience with efb than I want to have. If you smell the tell tale smell then you need to do something. It won't likely recover on its own so you can either dispatch it or treat it. Once a hive has been infected it will show up at every nectar dearth. Efb kills the brood by eating the food in the gut of the larva. Too much efb and it out competes the larva for food and the larva starves. It can starve after capping. If there is a nectar flow the brood is fed well and there is enough food for the larva in spite of the efb. In the spring when the queen out lays the nurse bees it shows up again because some larva aren't getting fed enough even though there is sufficient nectar coming into the hive. I also believe that efb can shorten the lives of adult bees who were infected but survived it being somewhat malnourished while in the development stages. In the summer the first sign that it is coming on is that instead of sheets of brood with only a few cells missing, the brood pattern gets spotty. The bees are cleaning out the infected brood but they can never get all the infection. At the same time what is happening with the rest of the brood is that it is unhealthy and will produce adult bees that won't live as long. Eventually, the disease capitulates and a generation of brood is lost and the hive will crash. Any time the brood pattern gets spotty you need to treat for six weeks or you can plan on your hive crashing and dying. When it does, other bees will rob it out and become infected as well. I've tried to be conservative on treatments for efb but after losing productivity in half my hives in two yards and spending july-sept trying to keep crashing hives together I'm going to err on the side of aggressive treatments. I will note that I have had hives that were infected at one time recover and not show infection again over two years without treatment. I would also note that folks in places with extended nectar in the summer may not have the problems I have. Hobbyists who have hived packages on new equipment may never have a problem with it. Other may not have it for whatever reasons. If you get what I have you'll treat or lose 30-40% of your bees every year.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Will Terramycin actually cure/kill EFB? Or just mask it? I'm leaning towards doing shook swarm but I would hate to burn all the drawn comb. Maybe I could shook swarm the hive and deep freeze the combs. Is freezing effective against the bacteria?
 

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There is no way to rid the frames of the bacteria apart from irradiation or heat. It puts the bacteria into remission for lack of a better term. I think by treating it reduces the load carried by the bees and perhaps some is encapsulated in the cells where bees successfully pupate. I believe this is the case as I have noticed the tendency of outbreaks when bees are tearing out and rebuilding old comb. There are studies on the shook swarming option and it is not 100 percent effective in eliminating the disease as the bees carry the bacteria with them but it is more somewhat effective than oxytetracycline alone.
 
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