Alert: European Foul brood and American Foul brood in our area.
There are high levels of European Foulbrood (EFB) and American Foulbrood (AFB) confirmed in our area. To receive alerts from the NBU about cases near you, log on to BeeBase and register all your Apiary sites. For more information about how to recognise signs of EFB and AFB read the NBU Foulbrood Disease Handbook.
The major route for transmission of disease is the beekeeper.
Use Soda Crystals to clean your hive tool and gloves/hands after inspecting a hive. Dilute 1kg of Soda Crystals in 5 litres of warm water in a suitable bucket with a lid and carry with you to each hive. This is particularly important between Apiary sites. Leather gloves are a significant cause of infection since they cannot be cleaned thoroughly. Use disposable latex gloves/Marigold style gloves. If you must use leather gloves wear disposable latex gloves on top of them. Keep your hive suit clean by washing with Soda Crystals.
Clear up any wax or other debris from hive inspections and put in a bucket with a lid. Discarded wax will attract bees and carry infection.
Avoid swapping equipment between hives. Do not exchange frames or boxes between Apiaries. Return extracted supers to the hive they came from. Clean any items which you use when moving between Apiaries eg your hive tool, gloves, boots, mobile phone, smoker etc.
Colonies should be inspected specifically for disease at least twice a year as advised by NBU. Now would be a good time. If you suspect a colony has a notifiable brood disease ie EFB or AFB please contact your area Seasonal Bee Inspector at the NBU and your Divisional Bee Disease Officer. The NBU would rather attend a false alarm than have a diseased colony remain undetected since the infection will spread through the area. Your Divisional Officers will support you and aim to be present when the SBI visits.
If you know any beekeepers who are not members of a beekeeping association please encourage them to register on BeeBase so they will be kept informed of outbreaks in their area.
High levels of Varroa
Many of our Bee Inspectors have reported a high population of Varroa mites in colonies across England and Wales. We believe these high levels are largely due to many colonies continually rearing brood throughout the mild winter. Continuous brood rearing dramatically reduces the efficacy of winter Varroa treatments such as oxalic acid, which do not kill mites sealed in brood cells.
We urge beekeepers to monitor colonies and check either the natural mite drop from a sticky insert/ open mesh floor or by uncapping drone brood. From May to August, a natural mite drop should be monitored over a week. The number of mites then counted over this week should be multiplied by 30 to give you a rough population of Varroa in your colonies. A figure of 1000 mites or more is considered to be a high infestation. If uncapping drone brood, then only 5 Varroa mites out of 100 uncapped pupae need to be found to be considered a high infestation.
Should you discover that your colonies have a high amount of Varroa then a range of options are available from biotechnical methods such as drone brood removal, to authorised varroacides. NB Varroacides used will be weather and temperature dependant. If you have supers on your colonies then thymol treatments should not be used due to tainting of the honey. More information is available in our leaflet ‘Managing Varroa’, from our website: https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/index.cfm?pageid=167 or alternatively, a hard copy can be obtained by phoning the NBU office 01904 462510.