What do I have? chalkbrood? chilled brood?

Discussion in 'Pests and Diseases' started by d.magnitude, Oct 8, 2011.

  1. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Hi,
    This past week I have noticed in a couple of my hives some unusual-looking dead bees/pupae? I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures, but I'll do my best to describe.

    In one hive I saw some bees that looked like they died while emerging. In fact, there were one or two live bees emerging right beside some that looked like they had died in the process with only their head barely sticking out. One of the dead bees had her proboscis (tongue) fully extended. Weird.

    In another hive, I saw a similar situation except that I would say the dead bees in question were in the advanced pupal stage (still white) but the cells were open. Again, I saw at least one with the extended proboscis.

    Background info: the first hive was very low on stores (I have fed it now), the second one was so-so (fed it too). Around here we did have a cold snap a week ago with lows in the mid to low 40s, accompanied by several days of rain. Sounded like conditions for chalkbrood to me, but I thought that was seen in the larvae, and I noticed no "mummies". Could they have just been chilled on the edge of a cluster?

    Thanks for any advice. It was only a few in each hive, and I'm trying not to stress about it, but I'd like to diagnose what I'm seeing.

    -Dan
     
  2. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Sounds like starved brood to me. :confused:
     

  3. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Hi Dan:
    The first hive, did you pull out any of the bees that died (the ones that were emerging)? Was there any deformation (wings, stunted abdomen) of these bees? Sometimes if mite counts are high, these bees are so weak that they lack the energy to release themselves. This is just one possibility.
    The second hive sounds like a chilled brood scenario, but could also be high mite counts. Bees will sometimes uncap cells with abnormal developing brood to clean them out (good hygenic behaviour).
    I am sure there are others here that can offer other possibilities. Chalkbrood is usually a sign of poor ventilation/dampness and would normally be accompanied with the appearance of the "mummies" you mention.
    Don't stress (never did me any good :lol: ), it seems you caught things in time with the feed.
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Sounds like Perry nailed it. :goodpost:
     
  5. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    I did not pull any of the emerging bees to look for deformities, but I actually think that mites have been under control in these hives. I've been doing mite drop counts for the past few months and my 24-hour averages have been consistently low. Not to say my measures are fool-proof though, and if I see it again I'll definitely pull some bees to have a look.

    I honestly don't know where in the hive I found the bees/pupae in situation #2 above, but in the first hive described the dead young bees were definitely on the outer edges (upper part) of the brood nest. I'm hoping they were just chilled and casualties were (and will be) few.

    I really must start carrying a camera with me, but then again my wife probably won't be happy about the buttons being glued down with propolis.
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a Perry snip..
    I am sure there are others here that can offer other possibilities. Chalkbrood is usually a sign of poor ventilation/dampness and would normally be accompanied with the appearance of the "mummies" you mention.

    tecumseh:
    some disease are (I think) a bit of disease pathogen + a bit about nutrition.

    this sounds to me like a hive hovering on starvation and the brood is not being readily attended to due to the starvation of the nurse bees.

    a fully extended proboscis (nothing really weird about that) is almost a sure sign that starvation is playing a hand in the problem.
     
  7. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    If starvation really was the problem (or at least the trigger to the problem), I hope I caught it in time. I've since fed each of these hives gallons of 2:1 and probably will continue it for now. The population seemed good in each hive.

    -Dan
     
  8. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    It's hard to realize it, but sometimes, like during several days of bad weather that keep the bees indoors, the strongest hives are the ones that finish their limited reserves first and die of starvation.
    Once, I lost my strongest hive during a week of rainy weather early in the spring. They were at a peak brood rearing pace and their food reserves were maintained on a day to day basis. With the bad weather locking them inside, the reserves they had went fast, being used for maintaining their large brood nest, keeping warm and for food need. I checked them out when the good weather returned and all I had was a packed hive of dead bees, dying brood and a lot of extended "tongues".
    It broke my heart to lose them. :cry:
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    efmesch writes:
    the strongest hives are the ones that finish their limited reserves first and die of starvation.

    tecumseh:
    Charles Maraz (sp?) wrote a column in an old bee journal explaining why most folks really didn't want to have some super egg laying queen based on this same kind of thinking.

    d.magnitude writes:
    I hope I caught it in time.

    tecusmeh:
    if the girls were still moving then quite likely you did. I read sometime where you have about 3 days to intervene once a hive totally runs out of resources. some times (based on experience from long ago) even when a hive appears dead (their legs will still slightly move) you can resurrect the dead with a bit of syrup in a spray bottle and just a bit of tlc. now that is a 'oh my gosh' kind of moment.
     
  10. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Thanks for the encouragement,
    These hives were definitely alive and kicking. I don't believe any of them ever totally ran out of stores; at least 1 frame of capped honey was present when I decided to feed.

    I heard somewhere than when a colony starves, they basically all die at once. I know they can cannibalize larvae when times are very tight, but is this otherwise true?

    -Dan
     
  11. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Before dying themselves, the bees stop attending/feeding brood: emerging or pre-emerging. Apparently you caught your hive at this stage, before the mass dieout you refer to. Stores were held for the living and not those "about to live". That's why you saw starved brood and not a dead hive.
    Sealed honey is not always as available as one would anticipate.
     
  12. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    If it is midwinter how do you know if the bees are starving or still have plenty of stores without opening the hive to see what is going on? I hear about people opening the hive in the spring to find a bunch of dead starved bees, but I would think that opening the hive during winter can create problems which could have a chilling effect. I know for example that I have left plenty of honey in mine but how long does that normally carry them through the colder months?

    What I have read tells me that when the temps are eratic and going up and down alot that it is more difficult for the bees because they become active and fly from the hives on warmer days and often chill and die before they can return to the hive before sunset when it starts cooling. They work harder to regulate the hive temperature and in return consume more of their stores for energy than they would if the temps remain feezing.
     
  13. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    You can tip the hive forward from the rear to tell how much honey stores are in one. It takes a little practice but you will get the idea.

    Tec or some of the other Texas keeps can tell you more along the lines of how much honey they will need to overwinter on. Around my neck of the woods it takes about 30 pounds or better.
     
  14. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    G3 writes:
    You can tip the hive forward

    tecumseh:
    I think??? I posted some picture in the photo section about doing this in a formal manner. That is not relying so much on feel but with the use of a digital 'fish' weight scale. if you rely on tipping alone you need to tip both ends since on occasion the honey can be stored on on end of the boxes with nothing on the other (which can give you an improper notion as to how much stores are inside... no matter if you are going by feel or are formally weighing hives).