Bee Disease Lecture with a Difference

By Richard Peterson

Eileen Remnant an experienced St.Albans member addressed around 25 members of the Association, mostly new beekeepers, in sunshine on the day after the opening of the London Olympics. Her lecture focussed on how to inspect a colony and what to look for as well as the most likely diseases that might be encountered. She stressed the procedures that would be put in place if a notifiable disease such as EFB or AFB was to be found at an apiary and how best to limit the spread of it to other colonies. A novel visual aid she used was a sheet showing the names of the most common diseases in varying type sizes showing them in order of magnitude depicted by the size of the letters in which they were printed. The most prevalent of them being DWV (Deformed Wing Virus).

She said that we have been very fortunate up until now that we have not suffered a serious outbreak of a notifiable disease and gave the numbers of recorded incidents detected around the country. Again we have been fortunate that most of the symptoms, which had been detected locally in colonies and thought to be of a serious nature, have mostly been caused by sac brood and chalk brood.

Eileen went on to talk about treatments and how they should be used. She said that by the use of some simple procedures like the dusting of the top bars with icing sugar after inspecting the hive in conjunction with mesh floors could reduce the varroa population on the bees by up to 20 per cent. Another item of information given was that when we treat our bees with any of the recognised treatments it was a mandatory requirement that we should keep a record of the serial numbers printed on the packaging and that these records were required to be kept for five years before being discarded.

When we arrived the chairs had been positioned outside the hut in the usual place and on the seats had been placed a photograph of a disease that the occupant was asked to identify, with instructions to look very carefully at them. In my case my sheet was numbered No 22, which was of a small mite sitting upon a larvae. This I quite wrongly identified as a varroa mite so no points for me. It was infact a tropilaelaps but in my defence I can only say that it was very small. It must be said a very high proportion of the diseases illustrated were wrongly identified and this goes to show that we see what we expect to see and not what we are actually looking at. A salutary lesson to us all. This was a very well received lecture given in a novel way and we thank Eileen for the presentation.

After the tea interval which is always used as a discussion forum Eileen gave a demonstration of some of the procedures she had spoken about earlier on how to inspect a colony and how to look for disease after shaking off the bees and removing the queen and placing her in cage and putting her in a safe place.

Finally I must mention that we have had another beekeeper stung at the apiary and having an allergic reaction. Fortunately he was at the time accompanied by his daughter who was able to get him to hospital. This is the second time this month and again I must stress how important it is not to be alone when visiting the apiary. An Emergency Contact Card has been devised which should be filled in and placed in the top pocket of beesuits for future visits to the Association Apiaries. Details provided on this card is sufficient personal information required by the Emergency Services should the need arise.

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