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Hey everyone, I live just north of Atlanta, Ga, have about 15 hives, and have been keeping bees for about 5 years. I wanted to check to see if it is realistic to expect to keep hives and not treat for foulbrood. 2 of my largest hives have recently deteriorated, one of which is now a dead out that has been robbed, so I suspect that the other hives will be infected. Seems like I now have several options:

Option 1: treat any hive in the yard that displays any symptoms with terramycin

Option 2: treat all hives in the yard with terramycin

Option 3: Destroy any hive and it’s equipment in the yard displaying symptoms

Option 4: Destroy all hives and all equipment in the yard and start over

Option 5: Destroy all hives and all equipment in the yard and go fishing


It is hard to imagine that destroying all hives and all equipment in the yard is a practical approach. And it also seems that since all of the hives are in the same yard it is inevitable that all the hives will encounter this issue.

I enjoy woodworking and have built all of my hives ( I know that it is cheaper to buy equipment, but I enjoy spending time in my workshop) and have never purchased any used equipment, so I can only suspect that they became infected from something in the area that I would have no control over. I would not know how to prevent this in the future.

I would be very interested to learn what the experts do to deal with this. I will have to admit that this is quite discouraging. I had finally begun to feel that after 5 years of keeping bees I had graduated to a novice beekeeper (this is a step up from being a professional bee killer, which described my first 2 years) where at least I understood what to expect, this is something completely new to me.

Thanks for any help / advice!
 

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...... 2 of my largest hives have recently deteriorated, one of which is now a dead out that has been robbed, so I suspect that the other hives will be infected......

Thanks for any help / advice!
So how did you conclude you have EFB and/or AFB?
Which one of the two?
Both?
What is the evidence you have any?
 

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Hey everyone, I live just north of Atlanta, Ga, have about 15 hives, and have been keeping bees for about 5 years. I wanted to check to see if it is realistic to expect to keep hives and not treat for foulbrood. 2 of my largest hives have recently deteriorated, one of which is now a dead out that has been robbed, so I suspect that the other hives will be infected. Seems like I now have several options:

Option 1: treat any hive in the yard that displays any symptoms with terramycin

Option 2: treat all hives in the yard with terramycin

Option 3: Destroy any hive and it’s equipment in the yard displaying symptoms

Option 4: Destroy all hives and all equipment in the yard and start over

Option 5: Destroy all hives and all equipment in the yard and go fishing


It is hard to imagine that destroying all hives and all equipment in the yard is a practical approach. And it also seems that since all of the hives are in the same yard it is inevitable that all the hives will encounter this issue.

I enjoy woodworking and have built all of my hives ( I know that it is cheaper to buy equipment, but I enjoy spending time in my workshop) and have never purchased any used equipment, so I can only suspect that they became infected from something in the area that I would have no control over. I would not know how to prevent this in the future.

I would be very interested to learn what the experts do to deal with this. I will have to admit that this is quite discouraging. I had finally begun to feel that after 5 years of keeping bees I had graduated to a novice beekeeper (this is a step up from being a professional bee killer, which described my first 2 years) where at least I understood what to expect, this is something completely new to me.

Thanks for any help / advice!
Could you provide us with photographs?
 

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Thanks guys, I will take a few pictures this afternoon if I can dodge the thunderstorms in the forecast.

I concluded (hopefully incorrectly) that I have the issue mainly from 1 of the hives, due to a unpleasant odor from the hive, lots of dead larvae in capped brood with small holes in cap, a very poor temper of the remaining bees in the queenless hive. Also, in probing through the cap to lots of the dead brood, it is a gray sludge. It is not overly stringy, more like a thick sludge.
1 hive is gone, the second looks unhealthy with some of the same brood symptoms. I just figured that it was in the early stages of what had happened to the first hive (they are both right next to each other and sit on the same stand)

I will get a few pictures and upload, thanks again for your help.
 

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Here is a picture showing discolored larvae and twisted in cells. Smell can vary case to case depending on what secondary bacteria are feeding on the EFB killed larvae and pupae. Different strains of EFB may allow more to survive to capping stage and demonstrate the perforated cappings. Early stage and late stage reflect on the number of nurse bees still available and what stage the diseased larvae gets hauled out and cell relaid. AFB larvae die under cappings. EFB most die before capping.
 

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Thanks guys, I will take a few pictures this afternoon if I can dodge the thunderstorms in the forecast.

I concluded (hopefully incorrectly) that I have the issue mainly from 1 of the hives, due to a unpleasant odor from the hive, lots of dead larvae in capped brood with small holes in cap, a very poor temper of the remaining bees in the queenless hive. Also, in probing through the cap to lots of the dead brood, it is a gray sludge. It is not overly stringy, more like a thick sludge.
1 hive is gone, the second looks unhealthy with some of the same brood symptoms. I just figured that it was in the early stages of what had happened to the first hive (they are both right next to each other and sit on the same stand)

I will get a few pictures and upload, thanks again for your help.
have you checked your mite loads?
 

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Thanks guys, I will take a few pictures this afternoon if I can dodge the thunderstorms in the forecast.

I concluded (hopefully incorrectly) that I have the issue mainly from 1 of the hives, due to a unpleasant odor from the hive, lots of dead larvae in capped brood with small holes in cap, a very poor temper of the remaining bees in the queenless hive. Also, in probing through the cap to lots of the dead brood, it is a gray sludge. It is not overly stringy, more like a thick sludge.
1 hive is gone, the second looks unhealthy with some of the same brood symptoms. I just figured that it was in the early stages of what had happened to the first hive (they are both right next to each other and sit on the same stand)

I will get a few pictures and upload, thanks again for your help.
Try to take multiple pictures.
 

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Hey guys, sorry if this post is too long. I am very appreciative of your advice so I thought I would provide as much detail as possible. Some of this may be irrelevant, but typing is cheap so I figured I would add the details. I will admit to you now that it is a humbling process to reveal some of the details and show pictures of the hives, but I will do the best I can.

The 2 hives I have am referring to were my best hives last year, and were very healthy all fall and winter and spring. I pulled about 100 pounds of honey from each of them in July of 2019 and began Oxalic acid vapor treatments in mid July after buying a Provap. It is an awesome device, and I went on a blitz to treat the hives every 5 days for about 30 days. My mite count was all all between 0 and 2% when I finished toward the end of August. I also provided 3 treatments roughly 7 days apart in October, and also gave them a 1 dose treatment in December. I did not test after the October or the December treatments, although that ws my plan the weather did not cooperate with my shchedule and I did not open the hives and run the mite tests.

All of the hives in winter (at this point I had 6, 10 frame hives all with a deep and 1 or 2 mediums. The hives that are now in trouble both had a deep and 2 mediums) were very healthy. In January, we had an ice storm and I had a tree split, with part of it falling over several of the hives. I had to move all of the hives in the yard (maybe 20 to 30 feet) which created a lot of confusion for several days. The 2 hives I am dealing with were least affected by the move.

In February all of the hives were light on food, and I began feeding pollen patties and also gave them syrup. I also added 2 additional medium supers with foundation to all of the hives toward the end of the month. In late March I began grafting some queens, and made several splits. I pulled 3 frames of brood from both of the hives to make nucs, and the large hives recovered very quickly. They had large populations of bees with lots of activity.

In late April, they had large populations of bees (about the size of a basketball) clustering on the front of the hive. The hives were very heavy, the supers were almost full by mid May. I have a picture on May 5 where they had about a basketball size cluster of bees that would hang on the outside of the hive.

I suspect that the hives did swarm, sometime in mid to late May the populations were not as large and the traffic decreased. These hives were very difficult to work with due to being so heavy.

In early June I pulled 2 supers from each hive (both had 20 full frames of honey) and still had a lot (roughly 2 mediums worth) of honey left on the hive. There were some medium frames that had brood in them, I pulled all of these and put them in a single medium, and placed this directly on the bottom board, placed the deep on top of that, and had a medium super of honey on top. This was my attempt to follow Walt Wright's method of having a pollen box on the base and then a deep of brood, and with a medium of honey on top.

When I pulled the honey, I noticed that there was hardly any brood in 1 of the hives (the one that is now dead). I figured that the queen had swarmed and that I had somehow missed the queen cells. I went through the hive a week later looking for queen cells, and did not find any. I pulled a queen from a small NUC and added her to the colony. I added her in a cage and checked on her a day later, the bees were all over her cage and feeding her so I released her. Everyone seemed happy and I left it alone for about a week. Last Saturday I was near the hive and it smelled unpleasant, so I opened it up and went through it. No sign of the queen, no brood, hive smelled bad, everything looked unhealthy. This is when I began to really wonder what was happening.

Regarding the mite count, I have not tested the hives since early last fall. I did see mites in the drone brood between the supers when I was pulling the honey, but there was not much I cpould do at that point. I have just gotten all the honey off the hives so I can now begin treatments. While I was out in the yard today taking pictures, I went ahead and gave all of the hives a Oxalic vapor treatment. Before I did that, I did run a mite test on the one hive that is still struggling along. However I am not sure how accurate my mite count was. I will need to decide if I want to continue with a treatment cycle of the Oxalic vapro or to put in some Apivar strips. I had already ordered the Apivar strips anticipating that I would put them in once I pulled the honey, so I guess I just need to make a decision as to which treatment path I should pursue.

On a side note, Hydrogen Peroxide is not an adequate substitute for rubbing alcohol. Due to the Corona virus business going on, all my stores of rubbing alcohol have disappeared and I have not been able to buy any. Maybe I should be embarassed to admit that I tried this, but perhaps you can benefit from this "experiment". Anyway, the hydrogen peroxide did not work, and I had to pull all of the bees out, empty the container, fill it with paint thinner (the only thing I could find that may work) and give it a try. This seemed to work, but there was a lot of junk in the container by this point, and there was an unusual dual layer film on the bottom that made counting the mites difficult.

I did the best I could and counted between 24 and 30 mites on roughly 200 bees.

Key point summary:
Hives were activly treated for mites last summer, fall and winter
Hives were healthy over fall, winter and spring
Both of these hives had large populations of beed at the beginning of May.
Both of these hives collected about 200 pounds of honey, I pulled roughly a 100 pounds and left a hundred pounds
I suspect that both hives swarmed after May 16.
Do not substitute hydrogen peroxide for rubbing alcohol


I am hopeful that this may be a heavy mite infestation, although I did not think mites would be a problem this early in the year.


Pictures:
The deadout hive is not recoverable, it has some wax moths in it and hive beetles. I will run all of these frames through the freezer cycle, and will then try to decide if I should destroy them or if they are salvagable.
The other hive is still struggling. The queen is laying a small and concise pattern in a small section of the hive. I am thinking I should divide the box into a 5 frame NUC and let the bees take care of a smaller space. They may be just a bit too large to push into a 5 frame NUC, so maybe I will jsut sit tight and monitor. Now that all the honey is off the top, it is easier to open the hive and look through it.

Anyway, the pictures are ugly, but here they are.

may 16.jpg
hive2.jpg
hive2cvarroa.jpg
hive2ddwing.jpg
 

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30 mites per 200 bees?

I think that's all I needed to read.

What exactly did you do to treat for mites in the fall and winter?
It is quite well explained what he did last fall for mites and should have been adequate. No mention of any mite counts or treatment this spring though. Recent mite counts over 10 percent while colonies are brooding represents a much higher total mite infestation even higher.
Commonly EFB results in low mite levels.
I dont have experience with smell of hive with advanced mite levels. I think a defining EFB test is in order. Hopefully it is just the fact that the mites situation got away on you and not efb. Those mite levels could account for the collapse.
 

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"
While I was out in the yard today taking pictures, I went ahead and gave all of the hives a Oxalic vapor treatment. Before I did that, I did run a mite test on the one hive that is still struggling along. However I am not sure how accurate my mite count was. I will need to decide if I want to continue with a treatment cycle of the Oxalic vapro or to put in some Apivar strips. I had already ordered the Apivar strips anticipating that I would put them in once I pulled the honey, so I guess I just need to make a decision as to which treatment path I should pursue.

I did the best I could and counted between 24 and 30 mites on roughly 200 bees. "


OK - OP so you got 30 mites per 200 bees recently, right?

If that's your mite count, The bad smell could be from the dead larva because your mite count is 30 mites per 200 bees.
 

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You could call your state inspector.

You may want to scrape back the comb and take a good picture with flashlight etc.

EFB larva melt, harden, and form scales that are easily removable.

I see you live in GA. We had the warmest winter in history in 2019/2020, that has implications for winter mite treatments.
 

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A few thoughts I have:

- You definitely have some bad mite issues that are causing some or maybe all of the problems you are experiencing. If accurate, those are huge counts, especially for this time of year. I suspect something didn't go well with mite treatments. You have at least two bees with deformed wing virus in the hive2cvarroa photo. Get some mite treatment strategy going immediately.
- Sounds like you need more frequent inspections. I recommend checking each hive weekly or no later than biweekly.
- I'd recommend you get an inspection scheduled.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hey everyone, thank you so much for all of your time and input. This was all very helpful for me. I will find the state inspector contact info and get him/her scheduled.

I would summarize that the problems I am facing now were due to the mite treatments in October and then again in December were not effective enough to reduce the mite load to a reasonable level. Then, because I failed to test the effectivness of the treatments, I was unaware that the mite load was too high. The mites were able to maintain a high enough population that when the hives swarmed, the bee that were left were too weak to manage the mite load and quickly deteriorated.

I feel poorly, and recoginze this is my fault. I knew that mite treatments are critical in the late summer and fall, but I just did not think that they needed to be checked and tested in late fall and throughout the winter. Another reason why experience is so helpful. I swear that I do not understand why honey is not $80/pound.

One good thing about this is that there is an easy solution for me, which is to monitor and treat (as needed) the hives throughout the late fall and winter. The comment from "username00101" where he/she said "a warm winter has implications for winter mite treatments" really painted a clear picture, I had just never recognized that there was still a potential danger late in the year, which is largely based on the winter. I have the vaping process and testing down so that is not much of a problem. I will consider treatments and testing into the late fall and winter mandatory from now on.

I ran my first OAV treatment throughout the yard yesterday, and other than spending an hour trying to find my respirator (after a brief but intense interrogation, I learned that my kids had played some type of corona quarantine dress up game and moved it) it is a smooth and easy process for me. I will continue treatments until everything is back under control.


Thank you again for sharing your advice and helping me!
 

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Windshield washer fluid is the cheapest and perhaps best liquid for doing mite washes.


Edit: Oops! :eek:I guess our bee inspector hasn't seen Randy Olivers experiments either. Our windshield washer is the Minus 40 strength but still behind the high percentage alcohol
 

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Thank you wildbranch, I know I am stating the obvious but Randy Oliver is one passionate individual about mites! He has such helpful information, what a service he is performing.

I have reviewed the video several times and he does go over some alternate liquids for the mite washes, he first starts speaking to this around the 41:21 mark.

One thing I will add to my testing process is to get a 10x "make-up" mirror and count the mites by holding the cup over the mirror and looking down onto the mirror. Randy speaks to this at the 1:02:47 mark. It is a great tip, thank you Randy!
 

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Randy Oliver posted on Bee-L recently that he has found Dawn Ultra detergent works. Might want to look up the full directions, more than I feel comfortable re-posting with out permission.
 
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