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Author Topic: AFB,weak queens, robbing AND swarming.  (Read 3546 times)
carol ann
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« on: August 25, 2007, 10:42:01 AM »

Hi!
First, I am so happy to have found this forum. Many of the posts have been so helpful. Seems most the time there is no right or wrong way to do this, but the advice is great! It really helps.
Second, I need advice, laughing. So any comments are welcome!

Boy have I had a busy week!
This is my first year beekeeping, so for the mistakes I have done, be gentle.

I have 2 hives, one feral, one Russian. When I opened the hives a couple weeks ago, they both seemed very week and was concerned they were not storing any honey.
So I decided to start feeding both hives. I did not check the hives immediately the following days except to check the level of the syrup in the glass mason jars.
Well Saturday,last week, I opened the feral hive and took a better look at the brood, just didn't look right. Spotty pattern.....poked a few cells....coffee colored slime inside....So I got on the phone. I Talked to about 6 different local beekeepers about American foul brood. Most these folks did not think it was AFB, but in any case the advice, opinion was, a strong queen can clean up the hives. Another was the queen was just weak and not laying healthy brood. So I proceeded, in the feral hive, started tearing the hive apart, taking out any frames I even thought showed signs of anything funny, and then consolidated all the decent frames into one brood box, Treated with terramyicin, gave them some syrup closed it up. (was not happy about treating, but dead bees...had to try something)

Did the same with the Russian hive, the cells did not look much better, but a little better. Less infected frames, not all the cells seemed infected, some even had hatching babies and other stages of dead larvae.
(nasty frames in a box for my next bonfire, perhaps today!)

So now we have wonderful nectar flowing right in the hive...Yum yum!
So here I go again the next day, and man look at all the activity!
First thing I see is the cleanup crew of ants hauling off bee parts from the feral hive, Then all this crazy flying around the front of the hive. Next, the Russian hive has swarmed out the hive and is hanging out under the pallet the hive is on, fighting off the ants, cause they are basically on the ground. Hornets going in and out of their now abandoned Russian hive. The Russian's robbing the feral hive. ( I am thinking this is WAY better than a bar brawl!)

So here I am with the books again, reading the forum.
So took all the syrup out of the hives, closed the feral hive up with grass at the bottom, and they have a small vent hole in the back they can get out of. Well no one is home in the Russian hive...so I just switched their box out, giving them a box with a vent hole too, grassed up the front hoping they would go home.
I set up the syrup in a bowl with sticks about 20 feet away so every body can have some.
I killed a few hornets with a flat stick, my only consolation prize.

So the next day, I bring home another pallet from work. move the hives over to the new pallet and prop the pallet the Russians are living under against the hive and throw a sheet over it. Giving thought go home, go home. Well they did not go home.

So now...It's Thursday? I figure the hives are both in a state of chaos, It seems the Russians want to have what the feral has, and neither is very strong. I decide to consolidate the hives, thinking if I am to get any of them through winter we need at least 1 strong hive. Besides those darn hornets are still hanging out.
 I find my feral queen, the weaker of the 2 hives, and kill her (man what a bummer, what a docile hive I really liked her) Take the feral hive bottom brood box, put some paper over it, and put the Russian brood box over it. The Russians are now hanging off the pallet in a tight little ball scoop them up and dump them back home. Now....this time I did place a jar of syrup on top of the Russians, trying to keep them in.
The Russians still have the vent hole to get in and out of, but have to chew through the paper if they want to get out any other way. The now queen-less feral box in the basement has their vent hole and grass stuffed at the front entrance.

Big sigh. Now I left them alone yesterday. The Russians are still robbing themselves, laughing. The hornets and the bees are both in the bowl of syrup away from the hives.
One of the brood boxes from the Russian hive is closed up away from the hive and the Russians are trying to get in it.
Obviously everyone is feeling great now! This is the most activity I have seen all summer.

So I am going to see if I even have a Russian queen today. I have no idea if she is alive. Then I am trying to decide weather to replace her. The idea is the first issue of AFB, and or just bad laying may have been avoided if the queens were strong?
So now if she is dead, I have to re queen.
If the Russian queen is not dead should I wait and see if she starts laying well, the bees start storing? If I do wait, how long would one wait?

Yeah thanks!
Carol Ann
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JP
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« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2007, 11:42:54 AM »

>so now we have wonderful nectar flowing right in the hive... Do you indeed have a flow going on right now?
Not sure what the coffee colored slimy stuff was in your hive but it doesn't sound good. If the combs in both hives were contaminated, I would start with a new hive with new foundation, and transfer the bees to this hive, without any of the old comb. Assuming you do have a flow going, if the bees are strong, they will build new comb. If your numbers have dwindled you may try putting them in a nuc for micro management. I suggest if you are not in a flow adding honeybee healthy to your feed. Good luck and watch out for waxmoth and small hive beetle. Keep the bees strong and they might make it.
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Kev
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« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2007, 12:22:50 PM »

Having just seen an AFB hive at my friends' place, coffee-colored slime is a perfect description. The definitive field test is to poke a toothpick into the slime. If it sticks to the toothpick and pulls out stringy, kind of like thick snot, it's AFB. AFB is BAD.

The NY Bee inspector gave me a lesson in AFB. We scorched 3 hives, killed all the bees and burned 45 frames to get rid of it.

According to Ross Conrad's new organic beekeeping book, AFB only infects larvae, so there is the potential to save the bees, but it's pretty late in the season for it to work. It requires dumping the bees into a new hive body with 9 new frames of undrawn foundation and one frame of drawn foundation. Leave them overnight and they will fill the drawn comb with the honey they ate when you disturbed them. The next day, take out that frame, because the honey will be contaminated with AFB spores and replace it with undrawn foundation. Their only hope is to draw fresh comb and fill it with clean honey. Usually this maneuver works best in spring.

Burn all the frames from the old hive and scorch the insides of all the hive bodies or supers that were on an infected hive.

Antibiotic treatment really won't get rid of AFB. It could keep a hive from getting it, but once it's inside the bacteria form spores that are really hard to get rid of. As soon as a larva eats a spore, it contracts the disease.

Good luck and beware of visiting anyone's hives with your tools or clothes. AFB is highly contagious. I don't think a strong queen can overcome it because it kills the larvae and is unwittingly spread in the spore form by the house bees as they attempt to clean it up. Everything in an AFB hive must be considered contaminated. Honey, frames, hive body, supers, brood.

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« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2007, 02:01:29 PM »

Get a definitive diagnosis.  Send a sample here:

http://www.ba.ars.usda.gov/psi/brl/directs.htm

or buy a test kit from one of the several bee suppliers like Brushy Mt. or Mann Lake or do a Holst milk test:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beespests.htm#afb

Don't just wait, find out for sure.  Don't just burn the hive.  Find out for sure.  Don't assume.  When a definitive answer is needed and available, get the definitive answer.  Then decide what to do.
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carol ann
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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2007, 03:48:30 PM »

I have tried to attach a couple photos of the ICK and poor frame. The Russian hive is back under the pallet. They must be HOT.
I am on my way to the grocery to get the powder milk, to try the milk test first, if it is unconclusive, have found a kit to order.
 Make some shade for the girls, try and get them back in the hive.
I have 9 clean frames, but will wait before I start armageddon.
Thank you Thank you, Thank you!





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Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2007, 06:09:16 PM »

If that bottom picture is your hive, I'd say it's pretty sure you have AFB.  Nothing else ropes like that.  But if you want a definitive answer, Beltsville will tell you for sure.
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carol ann
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« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2007, 09:18:44 PM »

Yes
that is a photo of my hive, well was hive.
I did the Holst test.
The grocery did not have 1% milk fat dry milk.
I bought, Instant Non-fat dry milk.
I did 3 test jars.
2 with the dry non fat milk and one 2% fresh milk (it curdled)

Please excuse me as I expand , I think it might anyone else with this issue.



that is my dry milk mixed with water, (5 miilileiters = 1 teaspoon) I used just under 1 teaspoon
 in my test tube,(the jelly jar) with the ICK from one of the cells. Notice my incubator. Its pretty warm here against the house this time of year. Close to 98 degrees, give or take.
It  took almost 45 minutes to give positive results.





Armegeddon has begun.

I have now torched the first the unused bottom board.


It took about 3 hours to burn about 30 brood frames.


My bees have 9 frames left, a brood box, 1 quart of syrup in another brood box on top, lid.
I have empty, to scorch, 2 brood boxes and upper lids.

The feral bees are still trying to hold down the fort with no queen. The Russian bees are swarmed and under the pallet.
I have set up some shade over the hive thinking the Russians are just too hot to deal with all this.

I am atemping to clean up the equipment, place the empty frames I bought, in a scorched brood box. If I am lucky someone will be willing to let me but 2 frames with fresh brood.

Now.......
Do I need to re-queen, is my Russian queen infected?



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rdy-b
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« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2007, 09:25:44 PM »

IF you are treating please rember there is nothing YUMY about terramycin in the honey  where did you come by these colonies sometimes you can knock back afb but you will never get rid of it all you end up with is a tifode mary colony that is capable of starting a afb outbreak and causing devastating damage proceed with caution and act responsibly so your beekeeping carer can get on a happy road of productive hives   cool RDY-B
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carol ann
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« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2007, 09:41:21 PM »

At this point terramyicin is not even in the picture. As I understand it, is able to keep the AFB from becoming active, but once active it has no effect.
I am attempting to save the bees if possible.
 All the brood frames minus 9 are burned. The 9 left have been treated, but will be burned, before I introduce the clean frames in scorched boxes.
Now i need to figure out if it is lost cause, genocide the bees and start again next year.

Big sigh
Carol ann
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rdy-b
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« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2007, 09:45:49 PM »

How did they get sick Undecided RDY-B
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carol ann
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« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2007, 10:01:43 PM »

First,
I received USED EQUIPMENT. as a gift?
Nothing comes for FREE!

Everyone please, be very careful

Then I had the feral swarm my empty boxes.
The feral bees had been exposed longer than the Russians I bought, so thats probably why the feral hive was weaker.

I am very sad with this.
The feral queen has already been killed, and now am hoping i do not need to eliminate the whole stock.
Carol ann
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carol ann
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« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2007, 10:23:45 PM »

Kev,
Thanks for the advice.
I am going to go through the frames I have left, pick one the bees can use for food one day.
I have now 9 empty un-drawn frames for a foundation home. try it for now. Keep feeding with fresh syrup.

Is worth a try   Wink
Thank you,
carol ann
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Cindi
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« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2007, 11:06:05 AM »

Carol Ann.  YOu have been to the brink and back.  What a lot of work you have done to try and save the bees.  That is good for you.  I bet it is really hot where you are.  All I can say is eeeee gads.  I don't envy the work that I know you have done.

Chalk it up for experience girl.  Now you know how to diagnose AFB (I am positive too that is what you had in your apiary), you know how to "burn" hive equipment and you have learned good stuff.  I wish you well and hope that things work out for you this year.  If not, don't give up hope.  Start again next year, you have learned some very valuable skills and this will help you in future beekeeping  Smiley  Have a wonderful day, take care.  Cindi
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carol ann
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« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2007, 01:08:59 PM »

Thank you Cindi for your kind words.
Yes i am now quite knowledgeable in this AFB area...laughing. I have learned something.

I just finished burning the last 8 frames, my shirt and 2 pairs of gloves.
The bees are in their 2 newly scorched boxes, bottom, cover and top, with 9 fresh, undeveloped frames.
The idea is they will exhaust any old honey on cell formation. I still have no idea if my Queen is alive, damaged or just traumatised.

Now I am going to spend the day in the air conditioned house! Whew! Smiley

Thanks again for ALL the help!
Carol Ann
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2007, 11:37:59 PM »

Once a hive has an outbreak of AFB there is really no going back.  I agree with MB, that is AFB.  You must destroy bees and the frames (honey & wax included).  The top, bottom board, and boxes can be reused if: 1. They are charred with flame, 2. Disassembled prior to charring, and 3) Disinfect or burn all hive tools, gloves,etc., that was used in handle the diseased hive.  Also note that burning is really the only thing that kills the spores, not detergent, alcohol, amonia, or other sanitizer works.

AFB spores can hide in the seams of the joints where the flame can't reach so it is imperative to fully disassemble the equipment to be charred.  If you don't the AFB will be back to haunt you again and again.  I've seen AFB spread from 1 beeyard to another because the gloves and hive tool were not burned or disinfected before being used again and I've seen bees put in hives that had had AFB but not disassembled prior to charring.

There is nothing, short of destroying the bees and everything, that can insure the eradication of AFB; no medical treatments or anything else.
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carol ann
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« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2007, 12:17:29 AM »

Brian,
Thank you.
Disassemble, big sigh. I was wondering about that today as I thought I might be almost done torching. Thats ok I have plenty of propane. A little short on sanity.

ALL of the old brood frames, shirt and gloves and now burned and buried. RIP
Scorched the hive tool. What about the smoker?Huh?
The bees are back in the scorched box. (top, inner cover and bottom board scorched) Brand new brood frames, and syrup.

Now before I start disassembling and scorching stuff again.... an open question to any and all.

This bee killing. This was something I had a question about.
Now are all the adult bees carriers of AFB?
Can the bees continue to spread AFB if the infected food is removed?
Thanks again.




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« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2007, 01:20:34 AM »

usually the time of concern of the adult bees being infected is with the honey in there honey gut and would be a concern if they swarmed with that in there gut or use it for food stores make wax from it or fed larvae  many people try and do save the bees but you never relay know conditions have to be just right for the encapsulated spore to germinate  remember it came from some place you could be stuck on a treadmill trying to stay in front of it. easiest way to put the bees down is with mothballs your call   Undecided RDY-B
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« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2007, 09:39:19 AM »

carol ann;  I think the advice of your local beekeepers is the best that you can get. Listen to them, they are there.

I have to agree with the locals, i don't believe its AFB. There are other things that can cause brood to look like AFB. 1. PMS-Parasitic Mite Syndrone 2.Ants. 3. Hive over heated 4. Chemicals, Chemicals, Chemicals, Just to name a few.

You don't burn your equipment when you find varroa mites, Small hive beetles, ants, mice or whatever else that may get in your hive, which if untreated will have the same end result. Why burn because you found a cell or two of AFB?  When scorching equipment remember, any temp. that will melt wax will kill AFB spores   Charlie

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« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2007, 09:44:33 AM »

scourching new-used equipment is a must. to bad you had to find out the hard way Undecided i'm sorry for your loss.

about killing the bees..bah i think it's better to be safe than sorrow.
and no..any temp. melting the wax will not kill the spores. torch kills instantly, melted wax has to be heated to 120°C for 20min. wax melts at what...45°C?
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imabkpr
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« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2007, 11:53:35 AM »

mici; To each his own. That must be some tough wax. Charlie
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