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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Long story short, I have some old comb and I'm trying to make certain that it's not a dead-out from AFB.

There's old dead capped scattered brood, some of it looks like it was chewed open with nice circular holes.

One thing I see no sign of, no matter how hard I look, is scale at the bottom of any of the uncapped cells.

I do see dead larva scales/dead body parts if I cut open the dead capped brood.

Does AFB ever show up in a dead out with NO SCALE anywhere?
 

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It would be really hard to ascertain NO SCALE AT ALL. Using old dead out comb is indeed a calculated risk. If you had no history of AFB you probably don't have contaminated comb. The test kits are not conclusive either, because they test positive every time they are deployed here in Montana and probably in your location as well. I think AFB is virtually everywhere. But concentrated in old comb, it may indeed more easily infect bees put on it. Choose wisely weedhopper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It would be really hard to ascertain NO SCALE AT ALL. Using old dead out comb is indeed a calculated risk. If you had no history of AFB you probably don't have contaminated comb. The test kits are not conclusive either, because they test positive every time they are deployed here in Montana and probably in your location as well. I think AFB is virtually everywhere. But concentrated in old comb, it may indeed more easily infect bees put on it. Choose wisely weedhopper.
I checked again, there's absolutely no scale in any of the cells, they're totally empty. The only suspicious feature is that there's spotty capped dead brood, some of which have circular holes. None of the dead capped spotty (some have chew marks, I found a wax moth in one of them) brood is sunken.

They aren't from my apiary, which is why I want to be sure it's not AFB.

They've been in storage for 2+ years.
 

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I would not use that comb, or any comb from any source. There are many viruses that lurk in combs/wax, it just isn’t worth the risk of infection.
 

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Nosema cerana definitely; you can freeze the boxes but have to throw out the comb, chronic bee paralysis virus the pathogen can be present for a long time and cycling out comb is recommended. That’s just two that come to mind. Deb
 

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Use of old combs depends on your level of experience. Old timers use them all the time because they know how to deal with the problems. A new beekeeper with a good mentor might get away with it, A newcomer going at it alone may end up opening a can of worms he wished he hadn't.

Yes, AFB almost always leaves scale at the bottom if it was left as such long enough for the pupae to rot. Most often a "tongue" (proboscis, actually) is seen sticking out from the hole in the capping. AFB is a disease of pupal stage, not of larval stage. The smell of AFB is putrid, whereas EFB smells like sour milk. AFB is a bacterial disease that, while it can be treated, generally it should not. It is far better to burn the bees and the hive so that it does not spread.

EFB is a stress-related disease - simply newspaper-combine a vigorous over-wintered nuc' colony and they usually recover in short order.

Suggested reading is Dr. Keith Delaplane's book, First Lessons in Beekeeping.
 

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Not definitive, but a UV blacklight will reveal protein rich remains on the comb. Those include the guanine deposits of the mites, and scale bodies from AFB decay. The protein glows brightly in blacklight.
 
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