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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
While pulling frames during a hive inspection that I believe has chalk brood, and a queen that's present, but underperforming, I observed three different workers backing into cells. That is, they would put their butts down into an open cell. There IS a queen present, although she is barely laying after introduction two weeks ago and no other signs of laying workers. No multiple eggs in cells, eggs on cell walls, no unusual drone cells in worker comb, etc. I don't spot eggs well on overcast days, and didn't see any in the cells in which this was occurring. I realize from Michael Bush and others, that every hive has laying workers, and that they are "suppressed" or the other workers clean up after them in a healthy hive, but I'm wondering if what I saw is a precursor to something bad about to happen.
 

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The queen is laying some ? Those are becoming workers? Probably will resolve, though superceder may be the best outcome. How long was queen inactive before introduction?

Population high enough to support queen?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hive was a spilt made late March from returning CA almond hives. Introduced queen was killed in the mini cage by loose virgin that never mated. Third queen balled upon direct release. This queen was introduced on a frame of brood from a nuc and was laying a little. She was caged CA queen banked in cage with others at supplier in a nuc. All three frames of brood in the original split appear to have chilled/chalk brood. The current queen is only laying (very little) in the band of open cells between dead larvae and honey. She's always wondering around the exact same frame the last three inspections, as if she never tries another. There is drawn comb for her on other frames if she wants it (both drone and worker). No sign she's laying drone eggs either. There are a 10 frame deep's worth of bees from what did emerge and from donor worker brood and covering bees given from hive next to it. I picked her up and place her on a different frame last inspection just to see what happens. So far, the bees have not made emergency or supersedure cells from donated frames either time they had the chance.
 

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I am not sure if it really makes much difference if it turns LW or just acts like one. Not going anywhere fast. Was the queen kind of a dud in the nuc or just in this hive? Workers are not cleaning out dead larva? Contaminated hive?

Time to treat it like LW and dump or break up. Banked queen can take 3 weeks or so to get going, you might try her in a clean nuc.
 

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I would have mashed the heads on the worker bees that "backed that thing up."
 

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>I believe has chalk brood
Do you have Chalkbrood mummies?

>and a queen that's present, but underperforming,
Is she underperforming or is the hive diseased?

>don't spot eggs well on overcast days, and didn't see any in the cells
Was there open brood in different stages? Eggs can be hard to see I also look for larva in bee jelly, the size of the larva will tell you about the time it was laid. Often you will find all stages and capped on the same frame. Egg take 3 days to hatch and the cell is capped at 8 days, so you can kind of guess the size of day 4,5,6 and 7 larva.

>spilt made late March from returning CA almond hives.
CA has had allot of EFB in the last several years and some really bad cases.

>the original split appear to have chilled/chalk brood.
Two very different things. Could it be EFB?

>The current queen is only laying (very little) in the band of open cells between dead larvae and honey.
Is it a spotty brood pattern? Small patches? Brood of different ages mixed?

>No sign she's laying drone eggs either.
doesn't sound like a laying worker.

>the bees have not made emergency or supersedure cells from donated frames either time they had the chance.
Cause they have a laying queen

The problem is not the queen but the disease which has dwindled your hive, the queen will only lay enough eggs the workers can support.

If you don’t have chalk brood mummies than it sound just like EFB, post pictures of the brood and I can tell you better. Also post pictures of any empty frames in the hive that has had one brood cycle in it (yellow comb changing to brown in the center where there once was brood).

If it is EFB your other hives are at risk plus your equipment, comb, tool are contaminated (it all can be cleaned)

Chalk brood is inherited, so requeen.

How many frames of bees do you have left?

Do you ever give your bees any HBH or EOs mixes with syrup or patties?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If I can get photos tomorrow on a day off, I'll post them. The split was made up in eastern WA on March 27 into a cardboard nuc box, after coming back from CA almond, traveled across the Cascades during a snow storm, on an open trailer with 120 other such splits, sat in a bee yard until I hived them on April Fool's Day (AH!). Only some of the brood emerged from the three full frames of capped brood. I was a little late noticing that the stalled hive's workers seemed to be spending all of their energy uncapping dead larvae. Little dried up larvae, none old enough to have eyes. Lots of larval corpses on bottom board, landing board, left in uncapped cells.

The hive's fourth queen (if you count the two it came with), came in on a frame with a palm size patch of capped larvae, and half of a frame of uncapped larvae. In two plus weeks, she never left the frame she rode in on as far as I can tell.

The hive was given four frames of drawn comb from last year, and one of foundation to draw and fed 1:1 in from a Mann Lake top feeder.

The brood issues did not come with the current queen. There appear to be enough bees to cover brood. She's not using drawn comb (which was yellow honey comb from drawn last year-I didn't give them any old brood comb). As I said, she's laying where she can, stuck on one frame. Ignoring drawn drone frames, drawn (honey) comb, and a small amount of freshly drawn Mann Lake Ritecell.

I have given this hive three frames of brood and bees in the six weeks plus that I've had it in addition to those that came in it. There are probably five frames of bees. They bring in a little pollen, cleanse, but stopped taking syrup, even though it's thought we're in a dearth right now.

I've not treated this hive, nor have I used EOs, HBH, etc, They were given one Ultrabee patty, (and whatever is in that) when hived.

I'm not familiar with EFB, so will research. There is no smell, by the way. I know there are cases of EFB in the county, including, I hear, at the university extension breeding yards of our local world reknown Carniolan geneticist.

I termed it Chalk Brood due to the dried up white little larvae, but out of my league here.

I've had a lot of advice to let this problem child go. My household Chief Financial Officer (the Missus) has said, after $50.00 in (two) queens- "No more buying queens" (for this hive). I'm still determined to save it, as much as I can, but not at the risk of the other three hives I have to draw resources from, and the one in the same yard I might somehow infect.

My gut tells me there is a virus, fungus, disease, SOMETHING, that came in the splits comb, brood or bees. The queens before the current one never produced ANY brood, so I can't blame them.
 

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Thanks FlowerPlanter, I've got the other kind of contamination stuck in my head now. Good save.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
okay, I'm thinking chilled brood over chalk brood. All of the dead larvae/pupae are all pearly white, dried. Don't see any of the brown/black/green moldy look as shown in any of the photos of chalk brood online. Snow white dead little larvae. Still, hoping addition of frame of capped/emerging brood kick starts this colony some. This hive has always been over a closed SBB, south facing, but partial shade from tall trees during parts of the day, not exactly in full sun. I'm considering squeezing them back into a single. The other three splits I purchased with three nice full top to bottom bar capped brood and caged queens are doing well. Only complaint is aggression/defensiveness. This one seems snake bit from the start, but was bound to happen, percentage-wise, I guess.
 

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After all the additional details. It does not sound like EFB.
http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=7458

But still post some pics if you can.

Sounds like the brood was chilled. Not enough bees to do a good clean up which also means not enough to brood up.

When you added frames of brood did you add nurse bees too. There may not have been enough bees to keep those frame warm, compounding more chilled brood.

Are you in a flow yet? If so your other hives should be booming and thinking about swarming. You can do swarm control on your strong hives by taking a frame of brood and replacing it with an empty foundationless. Find the queen set that frame aside or catch her in a queen clip then pick frames of brood with all the bees attached for your weaker hive. 2-3 frames should set the small hive straight. (they can be from different hives)

Does the weaker hive have pollen and honey stores? If so I would not feed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·


Another frame from the weak split. This capped brood was placed in the "nuc" late March, almost nine weeks ago!
 

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So more of a one time large kill than an ongoing die off. If she kept laying in every available cell (all spread out) they never had one spot to keep warm and the problem continued. Curious to see what happens when there is a concentrated brood nest available to her from the transfers. Are the transferred frames next to each other?
Please update in a month, I would appreciate it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
One time, in that very little of the frames that made up nuc emerged, plus a month of waiting for a virgin to get mated and lay (I had to pinch her at 5 weeks). Thanks all, will update during or after flow-in 2 to 3 weeks.
 

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This looks like just like EFB.

The capped brood is a shot gun pattern just like what you see if it EFB. But this still could be chilled brood that have not been completely cleaned out.

The larva that are there are all mixed ages intermingled. This happens when EFB infected larva die off between day 3 and day 8 (EFB kills the larva before it is capped). Workers clean the cells and the queen lays in them again then most of those die, over and over. You get this craze mix matched brood pattern spotty capped with all different aged larva. Just like in the picture. The hive uses up it resources repeatable trying to brood up, as the population dwindles.

There are two ways to can find out for sure send a sample of comb off for testing (free) or order a DIY EFB test (around $6-12)

http://ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=7472

I would check your other hive's brood patterns (post pictures). Open brood will tell if they recently caught it (ages 3-8 day) or if they had it a while with a spotty capped brood (8-24 days). Stronger hives something do better than small ones, and may not need treatment. If they have a shot gun brood pattern I would treat your hives.

Boxes and frames can be sterilized by a 80% fumigation with acetic acid for a week.

This is a really good article about foul brood
http://www.beeculture.com/storycms/index.cfm?cat=Story&recordID=92
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'll send a sample to Beltsville. The thing that had me thinking chilled is the capped brood in the photos was original to the split, and thus has been capped for two months. The shotgun pattern being more due to open space to lay in "random" cleaned out cells. The "young" recently capped (judging by the lighter colored cappings) brood is in patches and around the edges of the original brood band. Sad, to say, should have taken the missus's advice and just trashed these frames. I figured the strong hive would clean them up. Our club officers talk of the bees "cleaning up EFB", and decided to take a chance. I'll get a sample, and check both hives' progress at the end of the week, that'll give them a week since the last manipulation. Thanks again.
 

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If your other hive show signs I would not wait to treat, it's going to take a week to 10 day to get the results and another week to get the treatment.

No need to trash your comb a food grade glacial acetic acid funigation is alot easier than it sounds. $10 can get you a quart (check amazon and ebay), you use 1/2 cup per deep 80% strength, soak a rag then lay it on tops of the frames, seal the crackes with masking tape, for a week. It also kill nosema, chauk brood, moths and beetles and the eggs... You can your comb stored that way. I would clean out the capped dead first.

"Acetic acid kills EFB bacteria very effectively in the laboratory"
For this reason I would add a few tbsp. of vinegar to your syrup. Unless robbing could happen.

I would go back and get those frames out of the other hives. It's possible it won't spread until the queen lays in the contaminated cells, and the worker clean up the foul dead larva and recycle the contaminated bee milk.

Keep the weaker hive from getting robber out. This is for sure one way it can spread. You should be ok as long as there is a flow.

Stay away from EOs they kill bee probiotics and make your bee much more susceptible to any disease.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)




One week later. Pulled two worse frames. Reduced weak hive back to one box. Queen laying better, but slow, as if it's March, not June. One frame in strong hive was being cleaned up, but no new eggs/larvae, one had small numbers of fresh larvae. Pulled both of those and put in drawn comb from last year.

FlowerPlanter, will PM
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Update:
The smaller, originally "infected" hive struggled all summer. Perhaps I should have cut my losses, as advised by some. I'm on my FIFTH queen on that hive (it came with two-a virgin that killed the marked caged queen, so I "only" requeened three times!). Syrup and requeening were never enough, and I finally decided to treat.

Thanks FLOWERPLANTER for the advice and the EFB call, I'm convinced with the ongoing brood pattern, and added bees, it wasn't chilled brood.

I used Oxytetracycline, in powdered sugar. The hive is recovering well. The last queen, from a local breeder, rode in on a frame for extra brood and bees, and I was shocked when I saw the hygienic behavior of the new bees, they went right to work pulling more mummies that the original bees had given up on.

The larger hive recovered nicely without requeening, when the offending frames were removed, and a quick blackberry flow. I treated it also.

I'm concerned by all of the contradictory info on EFB. So many people say that a new queen and the bees will clean it up, and that with no spores, it won't survive or reoccur. There are anecdotal stories of it coming back in hives each spring when spring build up stresses the hive. That would leave me to believe requeening alone isn't enough. If EFB can be transferred from one hive to others by drifting bees, exchanged frames or on a contaminated hive tool, then some more intensive treatment or management may be needed than many here advise.
While I did opt for chemical treatment, I would like to add, I do not use HBH or EOs.
 
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