Saturday, May 1, 2010

Spring Treatments for AFB and Nosema

Here we have a trio of help for the bees.

Pictured in this photo (24 Apr), resting on top of the frames are:

Peanut butter coloured pollen patties. The bees really love these and have already eaten two.

The pink is the AFB (American Foulbrood) sugar powder treatment resting on wax paper and finally, a Formic Acid pad (blue) to treat for mites.

We took the winter wraps off the second week of April.

This spring has come up so fast that it caught me by surprise. I'm playing catch up now with posts on the hive activities.
Pollen patties were added to both hives and the bees have really been enjoying them. The photo above is when a fresh patty is laid on the top bars. The next photo is when the hive was just opened a week or so later.
The pollen patties come sandwiched between wax paper - it makes them easier to handle, although the more time they spend in the sun the more gooey they can get. The paper has small holes cut out and the bees were very quick to dunk down inside these holes to get a the food.
Later they chew up and carry out the leftover wax paper from the hive.
Hive #1, with more bees, gobbled their patties in less than a week and needed more. This hive has more bees than the other hive.
This caught me by surprise. I had more patties but there were at home in the freezer--oops!

For this trip, Dad and I were adding Formic Acid pads as a mite treatment to both the hives. The formic pads come inside a clear plastic wrap. The clear plastic is cut away, leaving behind the foam pad which stays inside it's blue plastic cover. There are holes in the bottom of the plastic and the pad is set, holes side down, on a couple of sticks. The sticks keep the pads off the actual wood frames of the hive.

Because of the thickness of the pad and the addition of sticks, a rim spacer is needed to create a little space - so we added those to--that's the lime green coloured rim in the photo.

The smoker was lit but it wasn't needed. As soon as the bees smelled the Formic Pad they dove down inside their hive and the buzzing went way up. I really hated doing this treatment. The instructions warn that you could lose up to 14 days worth of brood with this treatment. I was told that the reason the larvae die is because the nurse bees move away from the frame because of the smell and the bees are then not kept warm or fed and die. (Addendum to this note - the hive increased in size each week and it did not appear to lose a lot of brood).

The Formic also penetrates the capped cells to kill the mites, and often it kills the pupae too. But not treating would make things much worse. We examined the sticky mite boards prior to putting the formic on and Hive #2 is heavily infested - and they have less bees.
(Photo at left - bees enjoy eating their pollen patties).
I also watched this hive put out live deformed bees. These workers, born damaged as a result of the mites, are doomed to die and cannot support their hive. It's sad to see them.
We did remember to remove the entrance reducers once the Formic pads were in place.
A mite treatment is like chemotherapy. You're trying to burn out or kill off the cancer but not the patient. With the mites, you're trying to kill one insect but not the other. Like chemo, the treatment takes the patient down in an attempt to save their life.
It was also time for an AFB treatment, that powder is sprinkled onto wax paper that rests on the tops of the frames. I also gave them Fumigilan B to treat nosema.

We topped up their sugar water and then closed up the hive.

While taking photos I noticed some brown spots on the front of the hive. I don't think they were there prior to taking the wraps off. It could be Nosema (I hope not) or possibly a dysentery.
I'll have to keep my eye on that. (Addendum - no further brown poop seen on the outside of the hives.)
If you are new to beekeeping or you'd like to see a list of the recommendations and options for spring treatments, the Ontario Bee Association has an excellent list of what needs to be done and when. You can view it here. I found it most useful to remind me what I'll need to do next.
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