Bee and beehive Diseases Part 2

Organic Beekeeping methods for the control and management of healthy bees

 

When talking about natural systems (Treatment Free Systems) and bees I have to ask myself is it true and do bees in the wild living in tree hollows and possibly having pseudoscorpions as there helpers actually survive pest species like Varoa Destructor and the virus vectors that they carry?

After scouring the internet and spending a lot of time looking for evidence it appears that when Varoa first enters an area there is an initial die off of colonies but not all colonies die and after some time the bees return and survive quite well without human interference and are fully resistant to Varoa and the various disease that abound in beehives. In America it took around 15plus years for bee colonies in the wild to start returning and now after around 30 years since the introduction of the Varoa mite many areas are seeing increasing numbers of Wild feral colonies that are becoming highly sort after for there Varoa resistant traits. This is in stark contrast to the commonly reported false evidence of all feral colonies having died out as it’s simply not true. There are however some areas that for some reason we don’t know that have remained free of feral bee colonies.

One common comment from those that interact with these feral colonies is they are mostly Very dark and small and reasonably aggressive (Sometimes Africanised hybrids). If this is true that the bees are slightly smaller; then this fits exactly with the research done by Dee Lusby showing that the use of smaller cell sizes for bee foundation has a massive beneficial effect on bees. Dee Lusby showed that when you use 4.8mm to 4.9mm cell size as is commonly reported in all literature prior to 100 years ago you are getting back to a more natural cell size for most Apis Mellifera bees and this has several benefits.

  1. Increased density of brood chamber
  2. More bees produced per frame
  3. Easier to keep worm for the workers
  4. Time from Egg to hatch is shorter by at least 1 to 2 days
    1. This is important as it partly disrupts the Varoa breeding cycle and helps protect from Varoa infestation
  5. More bees frees up bees for cleaning duties
    1. Once there are enough bees this triggers aggressive cleaning behaviour and the bees actively remove all disease and insect infected brood from the hive.
  6. Smaller bees use less energy so more bees can be produced on fewer resources so colony stays strong
  7. Smaller bees live longer with an average lifespan of 8 to 12 weeks compared to only 6 weeks for larger bees so total hive numbers can become very large and colonies of 120 thousand plus are said to be normal for small cell Apis Mellifera bees
  8. More bees equals more honey so much better production can be expected

The biggest question I have is WHY are manufacturers of wax foundation still producing foundation with larger cell sizes? 60% or more of all foundation suppliers worldwide still supply foundation with cell sizes ranging from 6.0mm down to 5.05mm with just a few hard to get foundation suppliers providing wax foundation of 4.94mm down to 4.9mm and nobody is making foundation of 4.85mm to 4.8mm for Apis Mellifera

Natural worker cell size is from 4.6mm to 5.1mm with bees in the tropical climates having the larger reported size of 5.1mm and cold climate bees going down to 4.6mm

The Asian bee Apis Cerana is slightly smaller than Apis Mellifera and it is noted that this smaller size is a factor in its resistance to the Varoa mite and is able to live in harmony with Varoa spp. and its cell size ranges from 4.9mm down to 4.6mm so if you are a producer of wax foundation why would you not double your market and produce all your foundation at 4.85mm or 4.9mm and sell to beekeepers of both Cerana and Mellifera!!!!!!!!!!!

The last time I purchased some commercial foundation from my local bee supplier that has their own roller out back for rolling wax they could not tell me the cell size of there foundation and all they stated is it was a German roller, mmmmm not good when the very people you rely on for accurate information just don’t have a clue.

Now all this looks great on paper and the theory seems logical but people seem reluctant to give it a try. The knowledge of this has been around for 20 years now but nobody is listening and the foundation makers and bee supply shops still keep selling the larger cell size foundation so there must be other alternatives out there – right???

 

Well maybe?

There are many beekeepers that have lost whole fields of bees to Varoa and with the use of just those 2 or 3 hives that survived they managed to recover and now have bees that are reasonably strong against Varoa. These particular bees have a number of different methods of dealing with Varoa. Hygienic behaviour normally only takes place when there are sufficient surplus of bees that brood duties can be replaced with cleaning duties and some bees have a very strong desire to clean and rid the colony of pests and fungus etc. This cleaning behaviour seems to have become a very important element to the survival of these colonies. Removing infected cells, disrupting the varia life cycle! This combined with super guard duties that will not allow infected bees or mites into the hive means these bees seem to have pretty good resistance to the mites and beetles that can affect them and all without changing to a smaller cell size. So larger bees and smaller hive numbers can work when the bees place a higher priority on cleaning and guard duty but does this equal better control of other pests and diseases as well.

In most cases bees that place cleaning duties as a priority seem to do better than other bees at controlling disease and pests within the hive unfortunately the larger cell size bees still need a little help from man from time to time as they are simply more prone to attach from all the various viruses and diseases and pests of bees. Basically they don’t have the numbers to spare on cleaning duties and they take longer to remove infected brood and to clean out cells after infection but with the use of just a few minor herbal oils in the hive many people are claiming fully organic bees and honey. Organic does not equal TREATMENT FREE.

It’s worth noting that Nobody who has not transitioned to smaller cell sizes has been completely successful at having totally treatment free bees. Or should I say I could find no evidence of such people and certainly no large scale bee farms can make this claim.

Being treatment free means no traps, no organic oils, no acids, no bananas, no antibiotics, no screened bottom boards with oil traps below. No treatments means; no chemicals, oils or potions of any type. Absolute minimal manipulation of the bees!!!!

Wow can this be real and can it be done. Is it really possible to have large and small scale beehive operations that are treatment free and if so what needs to change. What are the prerequisites to successful management of treatment free truly organic bees?

 

Bee and beehive Diseases Part 1

Organic Beekeeping methods for the control and management of healthy bees

What are the various bee diseases and beehive disease issues?

Wikipedia has a reasonably detailed list of diseases affecting bees worldwide http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_diseases_of_the_honey_bee

Here in Australia we only need to worry about the following diseases and pests but rest assured there are plenty more around the world.

  1. Bacterial Diseases
    1. American Foul Brood
    2. European Foul Brood
    3. Nosema
  2. Fungal Diseases
    1. Chalk Brood
  3. Pests and Parasites
    1. Braula Fly (Currently only in Tasmania)
    2. Small Hive Beetle
    3. Wax Moth
  4. Future Issues
    1. Varroa (Coming Soon)
    2. Asian Bees (Apis Cerana spp Javana)

I have been reading and looking for solutions to the various issues of bee disease and pests and had to ask myself WHY are we experiencing these diseases more today than beekeepers of the past and there is only one answer that stands out from all the material that I have read and that’s the High volume transportation of bees up and down and around the country. Bees do not like being moved and when beekeepers do this it places undue stress and strain on the bees and expose them to many adverse environments that they would not normally be exposed to. If we stopped the mass transportation of bees today many of these diseases and pests would be reduced or disappear from many areas. Once a hive has been placed it should never be moved unless truly required to save the bees from destruction like fire or demolition. After several years in a location the bees will be able to survive and thrive with ease but keep them moving around and they will eventually circom to disease and stress and die if not treated with various chemical controls. Most so called professional beekeepers that transport bees have hive losses of 20 to 50 percent every year and believe that this is normal. It’s not normal and it’s not right. In Asia as an example they have very little mass transport of bees and do not suffer from CCD or many of the issues experienced in Australia or the USA or Europe

 

In the past before the use of chemicals in beehives and mass transport, bees lived in harmony with their environment and more than just bees lived in the hives. The bees lived with both pests and diseases but also survived and thrived because of beneficial insects in the hive such as pseudoscorpions and access to a wide variety of herbs and plants such as Borage for foraging. The pseudoscorpions would de louse the bees and kill the wax moth lava and the Borage pollen would protect from Foul brood disease. Unfortunately current methods of beekeeping do not encourage pseudoscorpions to live in the hive as the timbers used do not offer breeding spaces for the scorpions and most beekeepers know nothing of how Borage as a bee forage can protect bees from foul brood. Excessive ventilation and overly thin timbers used to make beehives today also adds to the bee’s plight. We have created artificial homes for the bees that actively encourage pests and disease and something needs to be done to get back to a more natural way of beekeeping whilst keeping some of the advantages used in beekeeping today like removable frames.

 

Borage Flower
Borage Flower

Borago officinalis

 

Natural Beehives in tree hollows and caves usually have only one small entrance and no top ventilation; they are protected by a thick wall of timber and at least partially shaded. Timber thickness in a natural hive would be at least 60mm to 100mm or more offering the bees a great deal of protection from fluctuating external temperatures unlike the modern hive exposed to full sun and using very thin timber that offers very little thermal protection to the bees from the extremes of heat and cold. Add to this the top ventilation in modern hives and now the bees have to work very hard to keep a stable temperature in there hive. It is a tribute to the bee that despite all the wrong doings of man that bees have been able to adapt and survive but now in a period of less than 100 years (The era of modern beekeeping) the plight of bees is at risk unless we change how we manage bees.

The use of chemicals in beehives breaks down the natural system of controls bees have used for hundreds of thousands of years; so what makes us believe that we can somehow do a better job with chemicals and traps than the balanced natural systems that have been in play for so many hundreds of thousands of years? In just the few short years we have been using chemicals in beehives the very pests we have tried to destroy have rebounded and become stronger as a result of ignoring the available natural systems.

 

 

 

Bees, Permaculture & Organic Gardening

Whilst it is recommended to use no chemicals or sprays if at all possible there are times when some action may be required to prevent permanent damage to plants.

 

How does this fit with Permaculture, Biodynamic and Organic. First issue to understand is that permaculture is not necessarily Organic or Biodynamic but it can be and is the preferred option. Permaculture is about working with the environment and nature to create systems that are whole and sustainable into the long term future and mimic or recreate many of the natural systems found in nature. Most eco-systems have been damaged by mankind and the natural biological processes are no longer functioning as they once did. Fixing the system takes time and in most cases will require around 10 years or longer achieving a truly sustainable permaculture system that functions as nature intended with a natural balance between animals, insects and plants etc.

It must also be understood that some insecticides and fungicides that are classified as organic are no better or different than synthetic equivalents and should be avoided.

So how do you manage damaging insects, plant diseases and fungal disease during the transition period from a broken system back to a self-sustaining and self-regulating system? Failure to manage insect and disease issues within the garden can lead to trees becoming diseased with poor fruit production or all fruits rotting on the tree before we can utilise the fruits and even lead to tree death. It is easy for gardens to be overrun with insects and disease and no useful vegetables or fruits can be harvested for human consumption. Having your labours destroyed overnight by insects and disease discourages people from becoming part of the garden. As the gardener it’s difficult to watch all the fruits and vegetables you spent time and effort to plant go rotten or be eaten by insects destroying all your hard efforts before you can harvest is very discouraging and this is why we need to manage what happens in our gardens.

What criteria do we use to determine what sprays, potions and powders are acceptable for use and what is not acceptable?

Criteria:

  1. Must be safe for Humans
  2. Must be safe for Bees (bees are required for pollination of most fruit and vegetable plants)
  3. Safe for Fish
  4. Safe for animals such as Goats, Horses, Cows, Sheep, Pigs and chickens.
  5. None damaging to the environment/ecosystem and the long term goals of a sustainable permaculture garden

Finding ways to protect fruit trees and vegetable crops that can meet the above criteria is not easy and when you look at the Traditional Organic Solutions used by people as listed below you will find that most of these methods do not conform to the above criteria.

Here is a list of Traditional Organic Solutions used by people around the world. Lists of this nature can be found all over the web and people believe them but is it true and are they actually organic and safe.

Pests

Traditional Organic Solutions

Ants;

Garlic Spray, Borax Mixture.

Aphids;

Garlic spray, Rue, Wormwood spray, Bracken Fern spray, Camphor Laurel spray, Lantana spray, White Cedar spray,Pyrethrum spray, Rhubarb spray, Elder spray,Nettle spray, Soap spray, Derris dust & Chilli spray, Nettle spray.

Cabbageworm;

Chilli spray,Garlic spray, Soap spray, Rhubarb spray, White cedar spray.

Caterpillars;

Pyrethrum spray, Rhubarb spray, Chilli spray, Dipel, Derris dust or Derris spray.

Cockroaches;

Eucalyptus Oil, Borax mixture2, Mashed potato & baking powder mix, Bay Laurel leaves.

Cats;

Orange peel face up near plants, Lavender & Eucalyptus oil mix.

Dogs;

Garlic and Cayenne mix or Garlic and Tabasco mix.

Fleas;

Wormwood spray, Rhubarb spray, Pyrethrum spray, White Cedar spray will protect pets from fleas and lice.

Flies;

Tansy spray, Wormwood spray, Grow Rue, Fennel, Mint,Tansy, Wormwood and Basil in pots around the house and anywhere else you want to keep flies away.

Fruit fly;

Vegemite traps, Companion planting, Pick up all fallen fruit. Spray with Tansy or Wormwood spray.

Lacebugs & Leafhopper;

Garlic spray, Pyrethrum spray, Rhubarb spray, Elder spray, Lantana spray, Wormwood spray, Soap spray.

Mealy Bugs;

Garlic spray, Pyrethrum spray, Rhubarb spray, Lantana spray, Wormwood spray, White Cedar spray.

Mites;

Garlic spray, Pyrethrum spray, Rhubarb spray, Elder spray, Lantana spray, Wormwood spray, White Cedar spray.

Mosquitoes;

Lavender, hang in bunches around outside of house, Eucalyptus oil. Grow Basil in pots around the house.

Moths;

Lavender, dry flower and place in small bags amongst clothes.

Possums;

Garlic and Cayenne pepper or Tabasco, Chilli spray.

Scale insects;

Garlic spray, White oil.

Silverfish;

Eucalyptus oil, refer to Cockroach recipe for other methods.

Slugs & Snails;

Place plastic containers of beer near plants, slugs and snails are attracted to the beer and fall into beer and drown. Old coffee grounds spread around your plants or saw dust.

Spiders;

Repellent of Gin, Eucalyptus and Lavender oil and spray around area you want protected.

Stink Bugs;

Soap spray, Rhubarb spray, White oil.

Thrips;

Garlic spray, Pyrethrum spray, Rhubarb spray, Elder spray, Lantana spray, Wormwood spray, White Cedar spray.

Weevils;

Fresh Bay leaves in containers.

Whitefly;

Garlic spray, Pyrethrum spray, Rhubarb spray, Elder spray, Lantana spray, Wormwood spray, White Cedar spray.

To attract predators such as Lacewing which are predators for sap sucking pests,

Mix 1 teaspoon of Vegemite to 1 litre of water and spray all over your plants, this will attract the Lacebugs.

Diseases

 

Apple Scab;

Chive spray.

Black Spot;

Elder spray, Milk mix, Horsetail spray 2.

Brown Rot;

Seaweed spray, Bordeaux spray, Garlic spray.

Brown Spot;

Seaweed spray, Bordeaux spray.

Citrus Scab;

Bordeaux spray, White oil.

Fungi;

Elder spray, Garlic spray, Horseradish spray, Seaweed spray, Chamomile spray.

Leaf Curl;

Bordeaux spray, Horsetail spray 2, Seaweed spray.

Leaf Spot;

Bordeaux spray, Lime sulphur.

Mildews;

Milk mix, Horsetail spray, Bicarbonate spray, Elder spray,

Powdery Mildew;

Chive spray, Horsetail spray, Mustard seed powder, Nettle spray, Bicarbonate spray.

Rusts;

Bordeaux spray, Bicarbonate spray, Lime sulphur or Wettable sulphur.

 

 

Pests

Traditional Organic Solutions

Ants;

Garlic Spray, Borax Mixture.

Aphids;

Garlic spray, Rue, Wormwood spray, Bracken Fern spray, Camphor Laurel spray, Lantana spray, White Cedar spray, Pyrethrum spray, Rhubarb spray, Elder spray,Nettle spray, Soap spray, Derris dust & Chilli spray, Nettle spray.

Cabbageworm;

Chilli spray, Garlic spray, Soap spray, Rhubarb spray, White cedar spray.

Caterpillars;

Pyrethrum spray, Rhubarb spray, Chilli spray, Dipel, Derris dust or Derris spray.

Cockroaches;

Eucalyptus Dust, Borax mixture2, Mashed potato & baking powder mix, Bay Laurel leaves.

Cats;

Orange peel face up near plants, Lavender & Eucalyptus oil mix.

Dogs;

Garlic and Cayenne mix or Garlic and Tabasco mix.

Fleas;

Wormwood spray, Rhubarb spray, Pyrethrum spray, White Cedar spray will protect pets from fleas and lice.

 

Most of these so called Organic pest and disease solutions are not able to comply with the criteria listed above as they are toxic to either fish, bees, animals or humans and lack target species selectivity being general broad spectrum cover sprays. Neem oil as an example is relatively safe for humans and mammals and even has medical uses for humans but is toxic to bees, fish and beneficial insect species so great care should be taken when using products like Neem Oil in the garden to avoid killing bees and most fish species and therefore does not fit the criteria as listed above and should not be used or should be avoided.

Neem oil, Wormwood spray, Tomato leaf spray, Pyrethrum spray, Derris spray, white cedar, Derris Dust, Borax, Tobacco Spray and Elder sprays etc. are all highly toxic at some level to either humans, fish, animals, beneficial insects and bees. They are none selective and kill a wide variety of insects outside the target species. Unfortunately you will find many websites promoting these poisons as none toxic and this is simply not true. The benefit of these so called organic poisons is that most of them are easy to make and cheap home brewed and are relatively short lived in the garden and break down within 24 to 48 hours. If breaking down in a short time frame is your criteria for Organic or being able to make it at home is part of your criteria then go ahead and call it organic but remember it’s a POISON and it’s toxic to many none targeted beneficial living creatures.

So what methods can be used to help control pest and disease outbreaks that do comply with our criteria as stated above?

 

Physical controls; Physical barriers such as nets, elevation, Copper Tape, hand removal of pests, removal of hiding places for pests, racking up leaves and composting etc. are all helpful at reducing insect pests. Companion planting can also have many benefits. Building up the biodiversity within the soil and the environment in general is one of the best ways to achieve long term sustainability and natural pest control. Having strong growing plants that are naturally insect resistant is always a good idea.

Home Made; Milk spray, Garlic spray, Chilly spray, Chive spray, Coffee grounds and Natural soap sprays are all relatively safe for humans, animals and bees and for the most part fish if used carefully. Unfortunately they are also only marginally affective in most cases but worth trying for minor pests like slugs and aphids in spot usage. Remember always that tobacco related products such as neonicotinoids recently banned in the EU are made from tobacco and you must question the use of all tobacco insecticides and there long term effects.

White oil; made from vegetable oil and water has been used in orchards for centuries and has proven itself to be affective, simple and very low toxicity when used properly. Mostly used as an over wintering spray on fruit trees to prevent fungal and insect infections. Often used when buds swell in spring just before flowering. Best to avoid using at other times of the year and never use when trees are in flower. When used correctly White oil is safe and effective for the environment and humans, mamals, bees and fish.

It is worth noting that copper spray is often combined with White oil for better fungal control but due to its long term potential to be toxic in the soil (Despite being called Organic) is something that should be avoided if possible. Depending on the level of environmental degradation in your garden it may be needed periodically until natural balance can be restored to the environment.

 

Dipel (Bacillus thuringiensis); This is a biological control found naturally in nature and is part of the environment in high functioning ecosystems. The particular commercial strain available to home gardeners and beekeepers in Australia has a very narrow field of activity and only affects around 8 or 10 different insects and only during there grub stage of development. This product is considered safe for Humans, Fish, Animals and Bees. Some strains available in other countries have a much wider field of activity and are not suitable for use with bees and may not be as safe as the product used here in Australia. Different varieties of Bacillus thuringiensis are used around the world as an organic control for a variety of different insect pests and has no set withholding period allowing product to be picked and eaten immediately after spraying (Spray-Pick-Wash-Eat).   Once an ecosystem has been re-established to full high functionality it is hoped that naturally occurring Bacillus strains would appear and help in the process of keeping pest species at manageable levels. Adding Bacillus thuringiensis to a damaged environment may be of long term benefit during the process of healing the environment. Like all products it should only be used if and when needed and is deactivated (Breaks down) when exposed to light for several days. Very safe and fits the Criteria as listed above.

 

Diatomaceous Earth (Absorbacide™); is an off white talc-like powder that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton (such as bed bugs, ants, termites, ticks, cockroaches, hive beetle, earwigs, aphids or fleas) it compromises their waxy coating so that they dehydrate and die. But it doesn't hurt mammals, birds, fish or humans. We can eat it. We do eat it! It's in lots of grain based foods because lots of grains are stored with diatomaceous earth to keep the bugs from eating the grain! Bees avoid crops and places where DE has been used and are not affected unless someone maliciously sprayed or sprinkled it directly on the bees or in the hives. DE is safe for fish, birds, animals, humans. DE is one of the safest and easiest ways to protect plants from insect attach. Localised application on and around the base of the plant or plants you want to protect. The main drawback to DE is its expense; at around $50 to $70 for a 5kg bag it’s relatively expensive. I only recently discovered this product yet it has been around for over 150 years. For further information you can visit this website http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/degen.html. D.E. does however require continuous re-application as it can be washed away or in high humidity situations will not be picked up by insects so some trial and error is required to determine the best way to use in your given situation. D.E. is often used in beehive traps instead of oils or poisons to kill Hive beetles and Mites but required weekly or monthly replacement depending on the environmental conditions. Meets and exceeds the criteria stated above. I would recommend its use over pesticides due to its being exceedingly safe to handle and no residual effects.

 

Traps and Pheromones; can also be used safely. Insect traps are bated with pheromones that attract specific insect species and once in the trap they die. Codling moth on apple trees is very easily controlled with the use of Pheromone twist ties that are hung in the tree shortly after flowering and disrupts the moth’s natural breading cycle. Very safe and fits all criteria as listed above.

Summery

Deciding whether to use or not use something to control an issue can be difficult at times. Placing a blanket No sprays allowed policy does not work in damaged environments and sometimes doesn’t work in well recovered environments in urban areas due to contamination from sources beyond the gardens borders and control.

By carefully selecting processes and products that will allow the gardener to achieve better outcomes whilst encouraging greater use of the garden. Educating people on best practice and minimal usage of carefully selected pest control agents will go a long way to achieving long term sustainability and a Permanent place in the local Culture or better known as Permaculture.

A word of warning; if people are not properly educated or given the tools they need to achieve the goals they seek then they will use the traditional tools handed down from their families and many of these tools would be toxic to the goals of a sustainable organic future for our environment.

We must also accept that almost none of the plants we use for food production are of wild varieties and as such would not survive without our help and intervention to protect them from time to time.

The manager, general workers and users of a home garden or larger projects such as community gardens have a responsibility (Duty of Care) to respond correctly when someone asks about various pest control products or practices and if they are lacking knowledge it is important to make sure to become familiar with the products or practices being asked about and to put aside prejudice and look at all sides of a situation or product and its usage. Being biased against a given brand name or company (Monsanto) or lacking education (unfamiliarity) is no excuse for using products or methods that may in-fact be detrimental to a gardeners long term goals of Biodiversity and Permanence in Culture.

If we put bees first when thinking of our environment we will always find a better way. Remember once a beehive has been placed it should never be moved unless truly required. Permanence of beehives in orchards and on farms would remove many issues and change forever the way we farm the land and use our home gardens.

 

Steve

Small hive beetle represents one of the many issues for beekeepers in Australia and much of the world.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been introduced to the small hive beetle to witness there destructive nature on bees first hand and have a few pictures below showing what it looks like.

After helping to collect a colony of bees from a compost bin we left the bees in a new box with some of the comb and brood from their nest next to the original location for several days then returned to find that most of the bees and the queen had absconded.  Ok no big deal we relocated the remaining bees and organised another queen from a local queen breeder.

This was now 5 days from the day we removed the bees from the compost bin.

Anna who had taken the remaining bees back to her yard opened the hive to put in the new queen and discovered something she had not seen before!!!!!

The small hive beetle eggs had hatched and the larva were running crazy throughout the hive.  She immediately removed all the fouled frames of honey and brood and cleaned the hive as best she could then grabbed a clean frame of honey and brood from her existing hive and placed in the hive for the bees and brought the hive box with bees to my place to isolate the hive from her existing colonies.

 Well you might think now the bees would be happy, all cleaned and new frame of honey and brood a new queen and all would be ok but no, the colony of bees that had remained was quite small and were unable to protect properly the one frame of honey and brood from being robbed by other bees or new eggs laid by hive beetles.  After about 7 days in there new location they absconded, running away from all the issues associated with this one frame of honey and brood they could not protect due to their limited numbers.

After discovering the empty hive I removed the frame of honey and brood and placed in the freezer and later inspection showed new beetle larva had infected the frame.

Then a day later I discovered the location of the colony in the bushes only meters from the where the hive box had been located.  I quickly organised a fresh clean nuc box with only starter strips of wax on the frames and rehoused the colony into the nuc box.  With nothing for the small hive beetles to attach the bees have stayed and although there numbers are small they will survive and next spring i am sure will become all they can be. The bees will now have the numbers to protect what they make as they make it and with the addition of several different measures to protect the colony from the hive beetle I believe they will do just fine but maybe it will take some time for the colony to get its numbers up to where they should be.

The collecting of this colony of bees has been one of the most difficult collections that has shown me many of the issues I had not encountered previously and has been a great vehicle for learning some of the more difficult and complex aspects of beekeeping. When retrieving the colony from its location in a compost bin it seems that they had the beetles under control despite the fact that the larva could pupate in the soil (compost) directly under the honey comb thus the beetle could complete its life cycle without ever having to leave the hive. This also explains why the bees reacted to our presence with extreme prejudice and attacked us with all their abilities. They had become overly aggressive due to the constant pressure placed on them by the need to keep the hive beetle under control. It’s a pity we were not able to collect the queen from this colony as she may represent the type of queen that has the right characteristics to manage beetles without the need for traps or various beetle management tools. The colony had been in its compost bin location for many years co-existing with the beetle for much of that time, and if we had not come and disturbed the bees I am sure they would have continued in the compost bin location for many more years without excessive issues from the hive beetle. Once the control protocol had been broken the beetles took full advantage and the results can be seen in the pictures below.

 Anna did however collect and process almost 5kg of honey from this hive in a season that has been one of the lowest ever for honey production in Australia’s history.

 

Lava deficate (Shit) in the honey and cause it to go bad

 

Each Female Beetle can lay 200 eggs a day

 

Once there numbers increase they mess up the hive and the bees will leave

Beetles are easy to spot in a hive

The beetles are able to survive being directly attacked by bees so the bees hurd them into corners where they cannot lay there eggs.