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I've got limited chalkbrood experience, but since those will decades of experience are not responding, I'll give it a go.
The photos of the hard white larvae look like chalkbrood to me. The black dead larvae are likely the combination of the two fungi that can cause chalk brood (yes, the two fungi that cause white chalkbrood apparently cause black chalkbrood when the join forces).
The photo of the comb was less convincing, were those drone brood they opened up? They might just be culling some drones. My hives do it late spring.
I hope that helps.
~Reid
 

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Yes it is. There is no "cure" so to speak. Wet weather can help expedite the chalkbrood infection.
Make sure you have adequate ventalation. If possible drop to one brood box so there is a more concentration of bees. However if you have like 7 frames of bees and stores, you might need two brood boxes.
If it does not clear up on it's own in a couple of weeks, you will have to requeen. Or if it gets real bad requeen. If only a few black/white on the bottom board they should get over it. However if they have alot, might consider requeening. Do not let them make a queen cell...buy one. The cell will have the spores.
Do this hive and last. And then torch any tools you use to work your hives. If you have gloves wash them, and wash your suit.

I have a couple of hives that developed this. I am giving them a week or so to clear up. If they do not, requeen. We are in a derth right now, so i have given them some feed and pollen patties. I am hoping that with increasing their nutrition, that i can help alleviate some of the problem...no proof, just seeing what happens.
My husband has been known to sit down on an empty super and go through each frame and use some tool from the shop ( like a screwdriver however just a point on the end and very skinny) and pull out all dead larva. This however was when we were smaller in operation size, and not so busy. He is a very patient man.

I had a hive last year that really did not recover, even after requeening. It was a very wet year. By mid July, I considered it unviable and destroyed all the frames. They were constantly fighting it and not growing in numbers. Since chalkbrood is contagious and can infect other hives, i personally felt that burning the frames was cheaper than spreading the disease around, frames are cheap

Chalkbrood is contagious

Sorry i missed your post

HS
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies. As I posted this a while ago with no response until now I have just been going on the assumption that my diagnosis was correct. To that end, we made screened inner covers and put them on the top of all the langstroth hives, to increase air circulation. Along with this, I've kept the hive covers tilted open for more ventilation on all my Lang hives since I first discovered the problem.

I have been using a separate hive tool when inspecting this hive, and usually do not wear gloves when I am working the bees. I do inspect it last, so as not to spread the spores. I am not sure how tenacious this disease is. I have been washing all my hive tools after use, but maybe that is not enough.

When I last visited this hive a few days ago I felt that their progress was not good. My idea was to give them a queen cell from a nearby hive that is requeening, but as I damaged a queen cell when I went into that hive (the cell was built between the supers), I decided I had just better stay out of that hive and let them make their queen with out my intrusion. By now, the new queen has probably emerged so that possibility is lost. I will need to find one elsewhere.

What is the idea behind consolidation of the hive, would this allow easier control the temperature / humidity of the hive?

At the time I last visited the infected hive, I shook out what could have easily been a couple hundred chalky brood from the bottom board, which I carried off on some newspaper and burned. I am not sure if requeening will help at this point, but I will give it a try.

Honeyshack, when you burned your frames, did you shake the remaining bees out in the yard to rejoin other hives? Aren't they also carrying the spores? What about general drifting among the hives in the yard? Will that endanger the other hives as well? Also, what about the supers? What is the best way to disinfect them? This hive has mostly plast-icell foundation. I assume it is best to destroy/ dispose of this, as well?

I am willing to pick out the brood, as this is what my instincts told me to do in the first place. But I didn't know if it would help, since the disease is fungal, and I figured spores are not necessarily eliminated by getting rid of the brood. Did this help? I would like to give it a try. If nothing else, it could save the colony a lot of work and right now they probably need their energy for other things since, predictably, their stores are low.

Reid, thanks for resurrecting this thread and offering a reply. I presumed (a bit disappointedly) that the thread was dead. The photo doesn't show the cells very clearly, but what I found were not just uncapped cells, but areas of four or more cells that were removed, like indentation and holes in the comb. By any account, it didn't look healthy or normal.

I read that fluctuations in temperature, particularly chilling of brood can cause this disease to get started in the first place. That would describe our spring here, as the weather got hot and cold, alternately. It still seems to be running in extremes.

I really appreciate the time taken here to respond to these questions and welcome more info if anyone has anything to add.

Good day, all,
Carla
 

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. . . .I am not sure how tenacious this disease is. I have been washing all my hive tools after use, but maybe that is not enough.
. . . Honeyshack, when you burned your frames, did you shake the remaining bees out in the yard to rejoin other hives? Aren't they also carrying the spores? What about general drifting among the hives in the yard? Will that endanger the other hives as well? Also, what about the supers? What is the best way to disinfect them? This hive has mostly plast-icell foundation. I assume it is best to destroy/ dispose of this, as well?
I have no doubt burning it all would work, but, after removing all the wax a 24 hr. soak in a stiff (10%) bleech solution might be worth a try. Bleach most assuridly will kill the fungus and the spores. I did this treatment for some nosema contaminated combs and it worked.
Also, here is a thread on mixing in a little bleach into some syrup to kill off the fungus in the gut of the bees. http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=226657
For a temporary fix, I can see this working, but as everyone says, this problem is a weakness of the queen's genetics. So, find that new resistant queen you're looking for. There has got to be somebody you can order one from if not pick up.


What is the idea behind consolidation of the hive, would this allow easier control the temperature / humidity of the hive?
Yes to both. More bees in a smaller spaces equals warmer, more easily controlled environment and more bees taking care of less functional comb. What few bees there are can more easily keep the smaller space from temperature fluctuations. For example, a small swarm put in a full deep might just poke along and develop slowly. Move that same swarm to a nuc, and they might double their rate of growth.
~Reid
 

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From what i am told by the university reasearch and Manitoba Ag bee division, you can add a frame of Chalk brood that is not severe to a strong healthy hive. They should be able to clean it up. However, some spores obviously remain

bleach is an idea, however, the disease is imbeded in the wax. The only true way to clean the wax is to really break it down in the bleach solution.

This hive, mine, was down to 3 frames of bees after requeening. When it came out of winter, it was healthy and had 10 frames of bees and going gang busters. Late July, I looked through the hive and made the decision late afternoon, the foragers were out. Some bees did die, but the healthy ones flew away and found themselves a home in the yard. I had little honey from these bees, and put in the cost of a new queen, spring feed and spring treatments.

In all honestly, I am probably one to destroy or replace frames at a drop of a hat. Especially if the bees are sick. In my mind, I am of the opinion bees have enough to contend with without me adding to the pressure. Frames are cheap. And if you get into the mindset of replacing two brood frames for every box of brood every year, the idea of burning a few frames, or rendering the wax and burning the wood or destroying the plastic gets easier.
Frames are cheap and healthy clean frames help keep the bees healthy. It's good husbandry practice to get into.

Finally, I am of the opinion, that starting late May, I am already looking towards winter. I mean our flow does not start until July, but, the hives need to be healthy. Mite loads light. Come mid August, the final decision of whether the hives will survive is made. If there is a hem and haw, I tear it down. I have to be of the mindset, it has to be a definite yes they will survive my management practices to the best of my abilities and theirs. For me, it is a cost thing. The cost of winter treatments and winter feed, the cost of the wraps. I would rather split in the spring than clean dead outs in the spring.
 

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I don't know how contagious it is. For several years in the early 2000's I had chalkbrood bad. Bad enough that a couple of hives dwindled over the summer and I combined.

This went on for 3-4 years. Mostly it would clear up about the time our honey flow would start (about June1). But a few would have it all summer. I always bought my queens at our local bee supply place so I didn't have to have them shipped.

One year I decided to order queens and noticed that those hives didn't have chalkbrood. In fact I had one frame that was just about wall to wall capped brood that when I opened the cells, they were all filled with chalkbrood mummies. That hive didn't make it and I put the frame in with a hive with my mail order queen. The next morning there were thousands of mummies on the landing board and the ground in front of the hive.

That hive never got chalkbrood. I started mail ordering all of my queens and I haven't seen any chalkbrood since. So, I would blame your queen breeder and if you see it very bad, change your queen source.
 

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Some parts of your post i agree with beedeetee. However, the part that it is soley the queen breeders fault I have issues with. Chalkbrood is a management issue not only for queen breeders but also beekeepers. When we see signs of it we need to take action. Is combining sick hives a good idea, or is it just spreading the disease? Are our tools clean or are they dirty, how about our coveralls, our boots...cross contamination. There are also some precurssor steps in which we can take to prevent it. Like nutrition in our hive, adequate ventilation, and proper space for the hive. Especially in cool wet weather which can exasperate the problem. When i say ventilation, i just do not mean the hive itself, but the yard it is in. Is the air stale, not much wind to clean the air where the hive is. In the later part of spring and into the summer and early fall, good cross winds are important in the hive. Is there overcrowding in that yard?
I know the yards i am having problems with right now are either too wet, or had the wind breaks removed to late, or i gave them too much space too quickly. As well, it seems the hives with the older queens are having more trouble than the new queens installed this year. Final pressure was, the dearth that hit right at the "perfect" time. The "perfect storm" so to speak.

To lay the blame solely on a specific sector in the bee industry as a whole, we are doing ourselves a disservice and passing the buck. To much emphasis is placed solely on the breeder. We want bees that have so many traits. We want the breeders to provide queens with mite resistance, disease resistant, chalkbrood resistance, managable traits, not to hot, quick to build up in the spring, not to big of winter eaters, and good honey producers. We have queen breeders build in "bee fads". But, what are we giving up? Longevity of the queen, swarming tendancies, more disease pressure.
In the end we also need to learn from our mistakes, and change or "upgrade" some of our management issues. And take some responsibility through our hive management skills.

I have an example that is outside beekeeping. We had a cow that had lumpy jaw. She was not that bad, we kept her since she raise a healthy live, good wean weight calf. What we did not realize was, when the sores broke, she spread the illness by dropping puss or blood on the hay, or near the watering station. A few years down the road, we got another. Then another year, another...and then in one year three. By this time the original sick animal was long since gone and buried. After reading on lumpy jaw, and taking our vets advice, we increased the iodine in the mineral and shipped or SSS all sick animals. Since then, no lumpy jaw. The reason we lost so many cows to this over a few short years...management plain and simple. If we had shipped her when she was still able to be shipped, and added iodine to the mineral, we would have saved ourselves several good cows and alot of headache.
 

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I don't know how contagious it is. For several years in the early 2000's I had chalkbrood bad. Bad enough that a couple of hives dwindled over the summer and I combined.

One year I decided to order queens and noticed that those hives didn't have chalkbrood.

The next morning there were thousands of mummies on the landing board and the ground in front of the hive.

That hive never got chalkbrood.
Exactly BDT. Chalkbrood may be, in some way, contagious, but...

It's not Foulbrood! The spores are everywhere. On drifting bees, in the water supply where bees drink...I'm guessing. So, why don't all the colonies break down with chalk? Burn your equipment with a chalk infection. I don't think so!

I battled chalkbrood for years. After I sent 400 colonies to Florida in '98, they came back with chalk so bad that is stank. Hygienic queen cleaned it up!

That's when I decided not to buy queens anymore. In a few years, after raising my own stock from colonies that never showed any mummies, chalkbrood became a minor problem. Sure, I still see the occassional chalky colony, but very few in my operation.

So, if it's so contagious why doesn't every colony show symptoms. If you say they do, you have susceptable bees. Start requeening with known hygienic stock, or raise your own stock from strong, productive, non-chalky colonies. GBB...Good Basic Beekeeping.
 

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Some parts of your post i agree with beedeetee. However, the part that it is soley the queen breeders fault I have issues with. Chalkbrood is a management issue not only for queen breeders but also beekeepers.
It's possible that you are right, but I don't manage my bees any differently and almost all of my hives used to have chalkbrood. I changed queen sources and I haven't had any since. I know that doesn't make a scientific study, but it is good enough for me.

It is a simple thing for beekeepers dealing with chalkbrood to try.
 

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I agree with Mike, requeen with a hygenic line queen. I had EFB or Sacbrood in one of mine this year. After requeening with a VSH it turned the corner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks to all who responded here. I live in Pennsylvania and will welcome advice if any knows of a reliable contact in my area for a queen breeder. I have a few leads, but it sounds like I want to look for the hygienic trait. I am checking this out now, so if anyone has a suggestion, it would be appreciated.

A great day to all,
~R
 

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...if you don't have it sorted out before the conference, we will have our own queens available (unless things go horribly wrong between now and then).

deknow
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I just checked the hive yesterday. After putting on a screen cover in place of the inner cover a week ago, things are looking a lot better in there. Also, the weather has been warm, dry and breezy. I checked the bottom screen (which I cleaned out last week, and saw that there were more mummies-- not good, but then, isn't that evidence of hygienic behavior? We also took out one box which had only a tiny bit of brood, thinking it was a fair price to loose a few bees if it reduced stress on the hive by making it smaller. Since I see improvement, (the brood pattern looks much stronger, far less chalky brood was visible in the combs, and there was the start of some honey being stored as well), I am on the fence as far as whether I should re-queen asap or wait a week to see how they fare.

But in the meantime, another hive, a top bar which i just got 5 weeks ago (the one that looked like it was dwindling all along) had a number of chalky brood mummies on its bottom. I really hate to re-queen this one, since I just got it, so for today we are making screen-bottom- top bar hives to move them into.

But what I am wondering is this: If I do re-queen this regressed hive, will I need a small cell queen for that hive? They are definitely smaller bees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Deknow,
Good luck with the queens. I hope to be doing this in the future myself. Make sure you don't miss any queen cells that the hive has made on their own. I understand that could fall into the category of something going "horribly wrong" :))
 
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