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Author Topic: Possible Chalk Brood Problem  (Read 7452 times)
gsferg
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« on: May 18, 2005, 07:54:35 AM »

Good Morning Folks

Yesterday my wife and I hived 3 nucs, without issue. This is our very first experience with bees- we're brand new at this. I think we did well, we found all 3 queens and didn't get stung. The weather could have been better....

Anyways, one of the nucs had a much smaller colony than the other 2 and there was junk on the bottom of the box (looked like brown sand) with a number of what appeared to be dried up white and/or black bee larvae mixed in.

This morning I collected some of the stuff and took a picture, which I've sent off to my friendly local State Apiarist but I thought I'd post it here and give you people a stab at helping me diagnose this situation. My own opinion (keeping in mind I'm a total neophyte) is Chalk Brood.

I'd have included the picture here, but it's kinda large. You'll find it here:

http://home.gwi.net/gsferg/pics/bees/hive_detritus.jpg

Most interested in your opinions on this problem, and what I ought to do about it.

Thanks in Advance,

George-
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George Fergusson <gsferg@gwi.net>
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Horns Pure Honey
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2005, 08:26:12 AM »

That dosnt look good at all. I am not an expert on this so I am not saying it is chalk brood but something dosnt look right.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2005, 10:24:30 AM »

Typically chaulbrood looks a bit drier and you see more of the white, but it looks like chaulkbrood.  They seem to be doing a good jab of getting it out sooner rather than later.

Try giving them more vetnilation.  Prop open the inner cover or put some popscicle sticks under it.  Putting them in full sun somtimes helps.  It usually clears up in a week or so.


http://www.kohala.net/bees/#anchor400987

http://maarec.cas.psu.edu/pest&disease/slide26.htm
http://maarec.cas.psu.edu/pest&disease/slide27.htm
http://maarec.cas.psu.edu/pest&disease/slide28.htm
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Michael Bush
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Bruce Hanson
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« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2005, 10:53:10 AM »

Yep it chalk brood pull a frame of brood from one of you stronger hives making sure you don't take the queen,and give it to the hive with chalk fo some added strenght a little feed would help too. Is that a varroa mite I see?
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Finsky
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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2005, 11:34:42 AM »

Quote from: Michael Bush

Try giving them more vetnilation.  Prop open the inner cover or put some popscicle sticks under it.  Putting them in full sun somtimes helps.  It usually clears up in a week or so.



I had a really bad chalkbrood problem in my hives 10 years ago. Next spring I get rid off 90% , when I demished ventilation and hive was warmer.

First tendency to get chalk bood is inherited.

Second, when colony is small, it cannot keep it's brood temperature.

If bees nutrition is week, they will get sick. Just now I had in many hives chalk brood because bees did not get water during one week. They destroyed larvas an after that chalk brood apeared into hives.

Reports say that it has connetion to varroa. When varroa arrive to my hives I got at same time chalk brood. Before that I did not identified that sicknes.

Best cure is later to change the queen. If chalk brood kills 20% from brood, hive is not able to gather honey to extract.

If chalkbrood continues badly the first aid is to isolate contaminated frames behind queen exluder and you give clear combs to queen. That have helped with small hives.

Last spring I destroyed contaminated frames in small hives and I gived capped brood from healthy hives. It was succes. They were just small colonies.
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gsferg
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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2005, 11:39:13 AM »

Hi Mike, Bruce-

Thanks for both your responses.... and Yep, that's a Varroa mite :-/

Mike- they're in their new hive now, with what should be plenty of ventilation, and I'm feeding them 1:1 sugar water. The sun just came out for the first time in a week- I'll go look in on them this afternoon.

George-
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Finsky
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2005, 01:13:25 PM »

Quote from: gsferg
The sun just came out for the first time in a week- I'll go look in on them this afternoon.

George-


Bad weather is important reason for chalkbrood.
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gsferg
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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2005, 02:21:04 PM »

Again, thanks for the information. I just went and checked on the hives- the sun came out for a couple of hours today and the bees came out of their hives in a big way. I saw foragers coming back with pollen even- that's gotta be a good sign :)

The hive with the chalkbrood is about 1/3 the strength of the other 2. The bees were boiling out of the 2 good hives, but there were only 10-15 bees hanging around the entrance on the 3rd hive. I pulled the cover and looked in on them- they seemed busy enough, but what do I know? I didn't want to pull the brood frames at this time- I just hived them yesterday and I wouldn't know what I was looking at anyways. There were 8-10 new chalkbrood-killed larvae outside the entrance- at least the bees are doing housekeeping.

I'll keep in mind the idea of putting in some additional brood, at least one of the other hives probably has enough then again, I'm a total newbie here. Ventilation *should* be OK now, I'd create more but it's really pretty chilly here lately. I'd really like some hands-on help deciding what to do. I've got a few calls into some local resources.

I guess the thing that T's me off the most is getting a NUC infected with chalkbrood in the first place. I expected parasite-free and disease-free bees to start with. I can accept the mites, I pretty much figured I'd be dealing with them anyways- I have screened bottom boards in these 3 hives- which I checked- nothing yet. I've never bought bees before, I didn't know what to look for or what questions to ask. I'm TRYING to be a good beekeeper and I'm learning FAST :-)

George-
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2005, 12:43:48 PM »

A lot of this is climate.  If it's a humid climate and a strong hive, then ventilation may be the solution.   If it's a dry climate and a weak hive, less ventilation may be the solution.  It always seems to help to get them in full sun for the heat to drive out the moisture.  Wet weather makes it worse.
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Michael Bush
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gsferg
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« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2005, 05:45:57 AM »

Well thanks again for all your suggestions. I stopped by to see the person that I'm getting another 2 NUCs from soon and complained about my chalkbrood problem and they said THEIR bees had arrived (from Georgia? Or was it Florida or South Carolina?) and many of their NUCs had chalkbrood too! In fact, they aren't going to let people pick up the bees until they've had a chance to assess the bee's general health and make sure they NUCs for sale were in good condition- what I thought was a very responsible attitude. My original 3 NUCs came from South Carolina and reportedly, the weather there has been Cold and Wet this spring.

Anyways, her suggestion was also to add some capped brood to the weak hive and to that end yesterday I performed my first Open Hive Surgery :)

It went well. I located what appeared to be a reasonably full frame of capped brood- one side was mostly full, the other, only about 25% full, brushed off the bees, and put it in the weak hive. I replaced the missing frame with one with new foundation. This also brought the frame count in the weak hive up to 10 (it was a tight fit- I initially setup my brood bodies with 9 frames each).

My only concern at the time was whether the weak hive had enough bees to keep the new frame warm- here's a picture of what I found when I first opened it up:

http://home.gwi.net/gsferg/pics/bees/weak_hive.jpg

As you can see, it's not a terribly full hive. The five frames in the middle came from the NUC. They haven't even looked at the 2 frames of fresh foundation on either side.

I guess time will tell. I should know in a week or so. I just want my girls to be happy and healthy!

I also checked my sticky boards and counted 3-4 varroa mites on each, after about 2 days which to me means the bees have mites but they're not horribly infested- YET.

Thanks again for all your help- I'll let you know how it turns out.

George-
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Finsky
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« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2005, 06:38:19 AM »

Quote from: gsferg
My only concern at the time was whether the weak hive had enough bees to keep the new frame warm- here's a picture of what I found when I first opened it up:

http://home.gwi.net/gsferg/pics/bees/weak_hive.jpg

As you can see, it's not a terribly full hive. -


Your problem is clearly to be seen. Too small colony and 300% extra space. Your little colony warm upp whole box, and the box is uninsulated.

The best thing you can do is to put colony in the space for 3 frames and you ad insulating plates on outer side of wall.

Also you can construct from insulating board a nuc hive. It is usefull later when you do your own nucs.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2005, 09:45:35 AM »

I'd put those in a three frame nuc.  Smiley
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Michael Bush
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gsferg
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« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2005, 01:22:13 PM »

Sigh. I can do that, I've actually got a couple of 4 frame nucs which will have to do. Now to decide which of the 6 in-use frames to put in there.. I'm sure the choice will be obvious when it's time.

This makes sense for someone who is as new to beekeeping as I am. It was 45 degrees this morning and we're slated for 2 days of cold wind and rain this weekend. I just wish I'd come to this decision *before* I added another frame of capped brood :-/

I'm stressin just a bit over this, but whatever will bee will bee.

One question I have- if they're still hauling mummies outside, does that mean chalkbrood is still alive and well in there, or are the bees just taking their sweet time cleaning out affected cells?

I'm off. I gotta go pick up my girl dog from the beauty salon.

George-
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2005, 02:01:19 PM »

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised how much better a small group like that does in a small box.
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Michael Bush
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gsferg
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« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2005, 04:46:36 PM »

Well, it's a done-deal. I sorted through the 10 frames, pulled out the 4 original frames with blank foundation and 2 of the frames from the original(5 frame) NUC they came in which contained, at most, some honey and pollen and put the 4 best-looking frames containing brood, honey, and pollen in my 4-frame NUC.. this included the frame of capped brood I put in yesterday.

There was a lot more mummies on the SBB that had yet to be hauled outside- a few dozen anyways. I really didn't want to take the time to closely examine the frames, I wanted to get the move over and the lid back on as quickly as possible. These bees have been through an awful lot in the past week...

There is a contented humming sound coming from the box and a few  bees were, for a while, ventilating at the entrance.

I did NOT see the queen during this move, though I found her when I first installed the NUC a few days ago. I looked this time, but she eluded me. I brushed all the bees I could into the NUC. When I was done, I didn't see her squished on the bottom board or flopping around on the ground. I can only assume she was hiding and made it into the NUC OK. Time will tell. I guess I'll go read up on how a queenless stressed out and weakened colony behaves.

Guess I'll go make an entrance reducer for the NUC. Thanks again, all of you, for the advice- I feel like this was the right thing to do.

I'll keep you posted.

George-
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Finsky
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« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2005, 02:32:07 PM »

Quote from: gsferg

There was a lot more mummies on the SBB that had yet to be hauled outside- a few dozen anyways. I really didn't want to take the time to closely examine the frames, I wanted to get the move over and the lid back on as quickly as possible. These bees have been through an awful lot in the past week...


George-


If frame is "full" on mummies, it is better to take frame away. Ater that larwas will be totally healty. If they raises new larwas in  contaminated combs, hey will not get them clean and disease ccontinues.

If you have healty hive, where you can get one full frame hatching bees, it is better to cast away sick frame and start from clean combs. I have done that with small colonies and it is worth doing.  

From one full brood frame it will come 3 frames bees. That is what you need, but still colony is too small to start.
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gsferg
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« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2005, 11:09:53 PM »

Well Finsky, I understand what you're saying- but I don't have a "healthy hive" yet, the other 2 hives I have only had 5 frame nucs loaded into them last week, and I already took one frame of capped brood from the best hive- I don't want to go compromising the welfare of the other colonies to help out this one. The other hives are doing OK, considering the weather.

We're in a bad stretch of weather now too, that doesn't help. It's been in the 40's and raining and windy for longer than I can remember. I looked at the hives this morning, and there were no bees flying at all (smart bees). The weather should break soon (later this coming week) at which time I will look in on the weak colony and try to further assess what is going on.

I'll be picking up 2 more NUCs (hopefully this coming week) and it may be that I can get some additional brood from those folks, IF I find it necessary to pull a frame out of the weak hive. I'm actually thinking of scraping together a few more dollars and getting a 3rd NUC from them and populate my existing hives as I expect my weak hive will be living in their NUC for a while- when they've built up some numbers and are ready to bust out, I'll hive them- by then I will have rounded up (or built) another deep body for them.

Right now, my inclination is to leave the weak hive alone in their 4 frame NUC, continue feeding them, and wait for better weather. They're taking syrup, which is a good sign. I've already given them some additional brood, hopefully it didn't get chilled. It should start to hatch soon. I have to give them time to let the steps I've taken so far work. Time will tell.

Thanks again Finsky!

George-
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« Reply #17 on: June 01, 2005, 01:35:32 PM »

Well, gsferg, you have fine weather with our measure
http://weather.allrefer.com/maine/whitefield.html

But I have any more small hives. If you give 6 w terrarium heater to your 4 frame hive, it will occupy  6-8 frames.  It helps a lot for small hives. Night temperature is worst for brood.

My hives are in south east corner of Finland. Just now we have evening and temperature is 46 F. Our dandelions are just open and apples star to bloom.

http://www.fmi.fi/weather/local.html?kunta=Kouvola

Temperature converter
http://www.wbuf.noaa.gov/tempfc.htm
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gsferg
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« Reply #18 on: June 01, 2005, 07:43:48 PM »

Thanks Finnsky, for checking in on this! You are right, today was *beautiful* out, finally. May was really awful- the coldest/wettest May on record here in Maine.

Today it hit 70 degrees (just a bit over 20 celsius) and the sun came out and it's supposed to be near 80 for the next 4-5 days. I took the opportunity to hive 3 new nucs, and my wife helped. It was great! They were really busting out- 3-4 frames of mostly capped brood and a ton of honey in the 5th frame.

We also took a look in on the "weak" colony; it's been sucking down syrup and was really looking robust- many more bees, lots of capped brood, so we took a chance and hived it also- and gave it back the full frame of honey and pollen that came with it originally. No more sign of chalkbrood. I expect it will do well.

So, we now have 6 hives going. I added a second brood body to one hive, it had 8 of 10 frames well under way. I expect, in about a week we'll have a huge population explosion and I'll be adding deeps to the rest of the hives too.

Summer is here! Thanks again for all your advice- I'll keep that terrarium heater idea in the back of my mind... my hives are a long way from electricity however.

Fond Regards,

George-
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Finsky
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« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2005, 03:03:28 AM »

You live ther in south. It would be very usefull, if you have some polystyrene boxes for nucs. Walls are warm and small colony will develope in it very well. It would be bettr than tarrerium hearting.

You can use polystyrene hive also if you make mating nucs. You devide box into 3 or 4 parts and nucs will give warm to each other. When you use normal frames in mating nucs, they easy to maintain.

6 hives, gsferg !  Sound good!  It is natural that in such a group there is some weak hive. It just put make extra efforts.  

But if chalk brood do not give  upp, change the queen.
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gsferg
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« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2005, 06:53:11 AM »

I think, in a "normal" year here in Maine (what ever that is) that the conditions that contribute to chalkbrood are short-lived but our springs can be cold and wet, and that can be a factor. Perhaps some insulated boxes would be helpful at times.

I was wondering last night if I was a bit premature in hiving that weak nuc yesterday, but it just looked so much more healthy with lots of capped and uncapped brood and honey stores than when I put it in the 4 frame nuc, they had no room to expand at all! In 4-5 days they'd be boiling out of there- I figured it was time.

Michael Bush told me I'd be "pleasantly surprised" at how well they did in a small NUC. He was right.

George-
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« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2005, 04:36:33 PM »

I've noticed Finsky shares my view of small boxes for small clusters.  Mabye that's because we both live in a colder climate.

Glad it worked out.
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Michael Bush
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Finsky
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« Reply #22 on: June 12, 2005, 04:28:12 PM »

Quote from: gsferg

I was wondering last night if I was a bit premature in hiving that weak nuc yesterday, but it just looked so much more healthy with lots of capped and uncapped brood and honey stores than when I put it in the 4 frame nuc, they had no room to expand at all! In 4-5 days they'd be boiling out of there- I figured it was time.
George-


For little nuc the room is better to be flexible. If you devide Langstroth box with middle wall, you have 5 frame space, When brood emerge out, just move wall and give them foundations one or two. When it is summer, they do not store honey but they spend it for building. Little nuc is very eager to build foundations if queen needs them. In cold hive it is difficult to build wax. But bees make wild hives in strange places.
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