Archive for the ‘disease’ Category


Medicine for the bees

This is HopGuard, a strip of cardboard soaked with a gooey concoction made from hops. According to the manufacturer, it is a natural product that will kill the mites in my hives, but will not kill my bees. One drawback is that it is messy, and latex gloves are a must. Just an FYI – bees can sting through latex gloves.

The cardboard strip straddles across a frame with the ends hanging down into the brood nest. I placed two of these strips in each brood box.

Here are the two installed strips. The good news is that the bees do not seem bothered in the least by the product. Unfortunately, it will only kill the mites that are on the bees, not the ones attached to developing brood inside the cells, so several applications may be needed. I placed a white board under the hives to catch the mites that drop from the hive. After about 30 minutes, I counted zero mites dropped from one hive and one mite dropped from another. Maybe my fall mite treatments with Apiguard were very effective. Or maybe I need to give HopGuard more time to work. I’ll check the white boards again in 24 hours.

Meanwhile, in the Elm Creek area…

Agarita, one of our best, early honey plants is officially in bloom. It’s interesting that the buds are red and the flowers, after they open are bright yellow. Agarita honey has a fantastic flavor and someday I hope to have some hives strong enough early enough to produce some that I can harvest. But not this year. The bees are doing well, but are still in drought recovery mode. They need all the nutrients they can get right now.


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Mark & David check the wax moth damage

Today was a weird sort of day at work for me so I rushed home afterwards and after about four minutes, decided I just had to get outside. I pinged Mark to see if he and David were done yet at The Farm yard. YAY, they were wrapping up but Mark said for me to come on out so I rushed out the door. The weather had cleared up by afternoon and it was warm enough for Mark and David to check on the new hives we got. Not a cloud was left in the sky by the time I got there at 5:30 p.m.

Good news: The hives are going strong and we have twenty-nine that have a second deep super, or brood box, on them. The queens were enlarging the brood nests already and that was a happy sight for my beekeepers to see. I could tell they were very pleased with their visit today. When they showed me the hives, I was amazed to see how they bees were out and flying like crazy. I don’t blame them, it was a gorgeous day to get out after the rains we’ve been getting. David said they were carrying all sorts of pollen in different colors. I bet that was nice to see!

Bad news: See the pictures? These are (luckily) just a few frames that the wax moths had gotten a hold of while the frames were sitting in storage in one of the vacant greenhouses on the property. YUCK. But still not as bad as I have seen him deal with in the past. Mark’s going to save one or two of these for teaching purposes. The others he will simply toss.

photo 3

I enjoyed my brief visit with the guys as they packed up. I got to breathe fresh air, see beautiful bees in flight, saw some hilarious chickens and a rooster, watch a chicken chase a dog (and he cried!)…got to be with my honey bee and that always takes my stresses away. Here’s one of the things I enjoyed seeing at the Farm yard. (And even though wax worms are not my favorite thing to see, I am still glad I got to learn more about them.)

A rooster & his hens

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hive entrance mite board

As part of his morning activities with the bees, Mark’s been going to out to each bee yard on a regular schedule that he keeps up-to-date on his phone. This morning he visited the Capote yard, which has been a tough yard for the bees this year. We love it out there but we’re down to a handful of hives. Mark just agreed, they are a handful. Those poor things have suffered cows and bulls bumping them and the dreaded foul brood, which Mark got under control. He’s moved some of the hives out and lost a couple but he perseveres as always. The powdered sugar treatment is a part of his routine out at the yards. He slides the marked board under the screen bottom board of the hive and then he shakes that fine dusting of sugar from above. As the mites fall off the bees and onto the board below, he can assess if the count warrants some more attention beyond the powdered sugar treatment. In the picture below, can you see some tiny brown, round flecks in the bottom of the grid? There’s also another mite in the second from bottom row on the grid – far right. So, I always wonder…when Mark goes to HEB (our local grocery chain) and buys bags and bags and bags of sugar and powdered sugar – do folks wonder what he’s got planned? Does the cashier thing, lord, this man must be a baker! Or a sugar addict. Oops, I gave away his secret. lol

mite board

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powdered hive

The varroa mites can really build up in our hives this time of year and if we’re not careful hives will be lost. I have started weekly dustings of the hives with powdered sugar. This loosens the mites that are attached to the adult bees and they fall through the hives’ screened bottom boards and onto the ground, where, hopefully, the fire ants will eat them. I’ve tried different chemicals and medications to kill the mites, but as you might guess, that which kills the mites also kills the bees. Not good. Powdered sugar dusting isn’t the most efficient way to kill mites, but it’s the only way I’ve found so far that doesn’t kill my bees.

ghost bee on frame

It’s easy to spot the white powdered bees, especially when they fly into the wrong hive. When you have some bees covered with powdered sugar it makes them easy to track, and it’s interesting to see just how frequently bees will fly in and out of hives that are not their own. “Robber” bees will usually be attacked and driven out when they enter their neighbor’s hive, but bees covered with powdered sugar seem welcome wherever they go.

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Capote Foul Brood - frame with issue

So we went out to Capote so Mark could put some treatment on the hive he noticed needing some attention. He also told me there was a certain smell to the foul brood disease that was in that little hive – so he confirmed what I had read as I was learning about what foul brood is all about. We have been so busy that we haven’t had much time to fully discuss this situation but Mark did say he thought it was the European and not American version. The above frame is an example Mark brought over to show me (I was safely tucked in the truck and all I had to do is occasionally roll down the window). At first, i thought the brood pattern indicated the problem since to me it looks splotchy. But Mark said it actually was okay. The real problem can be seen in the picture below. Note the broken cappings over some of the cells. This indicates that the bees were going in there and getting rid of the inflicted bees before they are even born. Sort of sad to me but they do that to try and save the rest of the hive. Good job bees.

Capote Foul Brood - foul brood indications

Below, Mark is dusting that hive with the equivalent of an antibiotic for bees. Hopefully it will help us with the situation. We will keep you posted on this development. Thankfully it’s not in all the hives.

Capote Foul Brood - an antibiotic for bees

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