SYMPTOMS: When the bees are active, you will see bees staggering and falling off the landing board. You might also notice deformed wings (K wing) during your inspections in the Fall. This mite continues to breed during the winter and can ultimately kill the hive. If you inspect your hive in the Spring and find that your colony is dead, look for the following tell-tale symptoms of loss due to tracheal mites: there is a moderately large cluster of dead bees (the size of a grapefruit) and there is still quite a bit of honey in the hive.
Note that you can safely re-use the equipment after loss due to tracheal mites. Simply clean out all the dead bees, and pluck as many as you can from the cells. The new colony will clean up what you can’t remove.
Remember that tracheal mites can be controlled through use of menthol crystals.
SYMPTOMS: You will note that your colony is severely weakened. You might also see mites on the bees or via detection methods. If you inspect your hive in the Spring and find that your colony is dead, look for the following tell-tale symptoms of loss due to Varroa mites: The dead hive will have very few dead bees and a moderate amount of honey. You may see no bees in the hive at all. The bees in a Varroa infested colony will often abscond to get away from the mites. You can safely re-use the equipment after loss due to Varroa mites. Simply clean out all the dead bees, and pluck as many as you can from the cells. The new colony will clean up what you can’t remove.
Remember that Varroa mites can be controlled.
SYMPTOMS: When you inspect your hive in the Spring, you will find no brood or eggs. There may be many dead bees. This is because no new bees were born to replace those that died during the winter. Inspect your bees (look inside) and make certain that the Queen is there. The easiest way is to find eggs. One egg per cell means the Queen is present. Be sure to look for eggs, not larvae. Finding eggs means the Queen was there two days ago. Larvae could be three to eight days old, so finding larvae is no guarantee that you have a queen. This is easy in the Spring, but if you are inspecting late in the season, you will discover that eggs and larvae are few and far between. In that case, the surest method is to actually find the Queen. Be patient, and look carefully.
SYMPTOMS: When you inspect the colony in the early Spring you find it is dead or it is a very weak hive. During this first quick inspection, look down between the frames and see if you see any honey. Honey is capped with white cappings (tan cappings are the brood). If you do see honey, that’s great. If not, and if there are still live bees in the colony, you should begin emergency feeding your bees. This situation can be prevented by generously feeding sugar syrup to your colony in the Fall.
SYMPTOMS: You will note a great deal of brown staining of the front and top of hive (somestaining is normal…a lot of staining is not normal). Nosema is a kind of dysentery that the bees can get. Nosema is the most widespread of all adult bee diseases. Nosema infected colonies yield 30-100% less honey than non-infected colonies. Nosema impairs digestive processes and can cause premature aging and death in worker bees. Remember that Nosema can be controlled through use of Fumidil-B®. Feed your bees sugar syrup medicated with Fumidil-B in the Spring and again in the Autumn.
EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN FOULBROOD
SYMPTOMS: Dead or weakened hive. You will note a very bad smell in the colony. You will also see perforated and sunken cappings over the brood.
NOTE: Foulbrood (particularly American Foulbrood) is a very serious bee disease and is highly contagious to other colonies. If you suspect your colony has foulbrood, please contact an experienced beekeeper or local bee inspector immediately! Do not ignore this condition. Foulbrood can devastate a hive, but you can easily prevent problems by feeding your honeybees sugar syrup medicated with Terramycin® in the Spring and again in the Autumn.
The greater wax moth, Galleria mellonella, is the most serious pest of honeycombs. Comb damage can also be caused by the lesser wax moth, Achroia grisella, and the Mediterranean flour moth, Anagasta kuehniella. These moths are an especially serious problem in tropical and subtropical climates, where warm temperatures favor their rapid development. Female greater wax moths lay their eggs in a cluster, usually in the cracks or between the wooden parts of the hive. The larvae are the destructive stage. They actually obtain nutrients from honey, castoff pupal skins, pollen, and other impurities found in beeswax, but not from the beeswax itself. Consequently, older combs are more likely to be damaged than new combs or foundation.
SMALL HIVE BEETLE
Aethina tumida, the small hive beetle (SHB), was recently discovered in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states. In South Africa, where it was first discovered in association with honey bee hives, the beetle is rarely an economic pest. In the southern United States, it has caused thousands of colonies to abscond, destroyed the marketability of honey, and rendered
combs useless. Adult SHB are reddish brown and about 1/4 inch long, roughly one-third the length of an adult worker honey bee. Adult beetles can be found in brood cells, on the bottom board, or on the inner cover. The eggs are laid in empty cells and are about half the size of honey bee eggs. The larvae can get as large as 1/2 inch. They feed on brood, pollen, and honey, then leave the hive, and pupate in the soil close by. Honey that the larvae have fed upon becomes discolored and frothy and smells like fermented fruit. If you have trouble identifying the insect, contact your state apiary inspector or extension specialist for help. If help is not available, send your sample in 70-percent alcohol to the Bee Research Lab.