Bee diseases

The value of a feral colony

Submitted by will on Fri, 03/30/2018 - 19:13

People value things more when other people value them. Price is a useful proxy for judging what other people value, but price reflects usefulness and abundance and status and cultural history.

It takes experience and time to learn the value of that which is abundant, cheap or free. It takes no time to be influenced by someone.

I value feral bee colonies. Established feral colonies are where natural selection is allowed to happen. Established feral colonies are survivors.

Deformed Wing Virus appears to be seasonal in Hive A

Submitted by will on Wed, 05/31/2017 - 06:40

For at least the last 2 years I have observed a definite pattern in Hive A. In spring there are lots of crawling bees outside the hive. Some are clearly affected by Deformed Wing Virus (DWV); others maybe by another paralysis virus or by exhaustion.

They crawl around near the hive. If you launch them into the air they fall back to earth. They never make it back to the hive and have probably been ejected by the other bees. The Sparrows eat some of them. The others presumably die out of site.

An early morning viewing

Submitted by will on Mon, 05/29/2017 - 08:50

I went to the visit the bees at my out-apiary this morning. I took the lids off the hives but left the brood area alone (except for Hive F) because the air temperature was cool. Everything was finished by 0630.

A side effect of looking at hives in the early morning is that all their flying bees are still in the hive. These are the bees which are most likely to defend the colony. As a result the bees seemed noticeably more angry when I opened the hives.

All the hives have plenty of space, with the possible exception of E.

Anticipating a balancing of the host-parasite relationship

Submitted by will on Thu, 05/25/2017 - 19:40

Parasites rely on another organism for aspects of their feeding and/or reproduction. Whilst parasitism is a complex subject, the relationship between Western Honey Bees and Varroa mites is relatively simple. The mites live entirely with and on the bees. Food, reproduction and transport is all provided by bees. In this case, if the host dies so does the parasite.

Hive F still shedding lots of Varroa

Submitted by will on Thu, 05/11/2017 - 05:53

I looked at Hive F's removable floor again on Tuesday 9th May. I counted 24 Varroa mites which had fallen out of the colony. That's 8 per day. Will they survive?

UPDATE: I visited the hive on 12th May after dark. There were another 32 mites. I've counted 88 mites in 7.5 days, an average of about 12 per day. That's very high. This colony has been untreated for a couple of years but it was from a bought queen before that. I don't think much of its' ability to manage Varroa.

Hive F settling in and shedding lots of Varroa

Submitted by will on Sat, 05/06/2017 - 12:37

I put the a swarm from Helen into Hive F on the evening of 2nd May. I had a look at the entrance and the removable hive floor this morning.

The colony appears to be settling in well, despite the colder May weather. There is shed wax on the removable hive floor; there are bees coming and going. It appears that they've been building comb and orienting themselves to their new area. I didn't look for pollen, but I wouldn't expect to see it this soon anyway.

Wax Moth

Submitted by admin on Sat, 03/25/2017 - 12:08

Hive B has a wax moth problem - or they're unusually good at coping with it. I'm betting that it's a problem. I'll know when it's warm enough to have a look inside.

I have found 4 wax moth larvae on the removable floor of the hive. I've been keeping the floor clear of debris so I don't think they hatched on the floor, unless there is more debris that I can't see.

Identifying Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus

Submitted by will on Thu, 03/09/2017 - 19:09

Do some of my bees have CBPV? Today I watched 5 bees at the entrance to Hive D. They were on the ground below the landing board. They weren't moving much. Two or three of them were considerably darker than I'd expect.

Could it be the weather? Perhaps these bees were just chilled. Am I a Bee Hypochondriac? Certainly I have no idea whether this hive has this disease.

Joining the ReViVe project

Submitted by will on Thu, 06/02/2016 - 19:32

BBKA News ran an article in June about a new project to study Deformed Wing Virus in untreated hives: the ReViVe project*. This is part of Professor S. Martin's research group in University of Salford.

I contacted the PhD student who is undertaking the study and offered my two new hives. These have come from a feral swarm and have not been treated or controlled for Varroa.

The two hives are now part of that study. I have sample tubes to fill with bees for testing. I'm wondering how to persuade the live bees into the tubes. It's going to be tricky.