|Here's the old brood comb, with the sample we cut out to send to the Bee Lab. Although they only ask for a 2" x 2" square, we cut out a section to fit a small USPS box instead. Don't want them to wish they had more to test!|
So what are our options for treatment? While EFB is no walk in the park to get rid of, it's not quite as bad as its evil sibling American Foulbrood (AFB) in that it doesn't form spores. For AFB, the only treatment is to kill the bees and burn them along with the frames and comb (hive boxes and other equipment the bees have come into contact with can sometimes be sterilized by high heat or bleach). For EFB, there are a few more options (and here):
- Do nothing, since in a strong hive, symptoms will often clear up when the nectar flow is strong.
- Treat with the antibiotic Oxytetracycline (trade name Terramycin).
- Re-queen, since a disruption in the brood cycle will often clear up symptoms.
- Use the "shook swarm" method to restart the colony on uninfected combs in a new hive (this also disrupts the brood cycle).
- Kill the bees and burn or sterilize everything, same as for treating AFB.
So, shook swarm it is!
The general operation is simple, and shown here: we're just taking all the bees from the old hive and shaking them into the new hive. A few tricks that aren't shown in the video: the new hive should have a queen excluder on the bottom (actually functioning as a queen includer) so that she doesn't have the opportunity to decide she doesn't like the new digs. Also, the chances are good that she'll end up in the new hive if we're efficient in our shaking operation, but we can increase the odds by spraying the frames down with sugar water to reduce flying bees before shaking them, or if we wanted to be really sure, we could find the queen and catch her, and then install her in the new hive once the rest of the bees are in there.
Also, in our case, since we're trying to clear up EFB, the new hive should just have foundation and not already-drawn comb so that the bees have a chance to sort of purge their system before they have to feed new brood. Some sources recommend holding off on feeding them for a few days for the same reason.
|After a couple weeks in the new hive, they've started drawing out comb and generally looking healthier. Can you find the queen in this picture? Her name is Waldo.|
Have you dealt with EFB before? Have you done the shook swarm method with your bees? How did it go? Let us know in the comments section below!