If you’ve landed yourself in this article, it probably means that you are new to the beekeeping venture or are simply interested in it. And if you’re serious about trying beekeeping, you should be aware of the various pests and diseases that can afflict your bees. So, without further ado, let us begin and help you prep for any future beekeeping problems.
Swarming is a natural process that takes place when the colony feels disturbed in their current hive. Swarming produces swarm cells that contain developing queens. They proceed onto a journey by splitting into two colonies. One colony remains in the hive with the developing queen and the other leaves for greener pastures with the current queen. To prepare themselves on this journey, they would fill themselves with honey for sufficient energy to build a new hive. As a beekeeper, you want to prevent swarming for a multiple of reasons, including protecting the other animals you’re caring for from your bees.
How to prevent swarming?
1. Remove developing queens
Swarm cells are for sure a clear sign of an imminent swarming. To avoid swarming, removing the developing queens would prevent half of the hive from leaving because they cannot leave without a queen. Although this would only delay the time before the swarming happens, it helps to buy time so that you can understand why your bees are swarming, and then take the appropriate measures to counter it.
2. Beat with heat
Bees would relocate if they get too hot so it is crucial to have proper ventilation.
3. Outgrowing the hive
Since it is expected the colony will expand over time, it is important to check if there is sufficient space in the hive for the bees to grow. As such, it is natural for the bees to feel a need to relocate when there is not enough space. To prevent this from happening, consider moving the hive body at the bottom all the way to the top as this would help to make more space for them to grow upwards.
Despite bees’ preference for beelines and highways, they would ultimately move to a location with access to water if their water source is depleted. So, it is important to make sure that your bees stay hydrated.
Common diseases among honey bees
Basically, Nosema is a type of disease that affects the digestive system in bees and it causes fatigue, weakness and even death. It’s like if bees had stomach flu. Nosema is caused by the protozoa spores found in bee feces and bees out of their clean nature are forced to lick their feces during frigid climates to keep the hive clean since they cannot leave the hive and relieve themselves. That is how they contract the Nosema disease. To cure this, give your bees antibiotics or otherwise remove spore-filed frames to prevent the disease from spreading.
2. American Foulbrood (AFB)
A type of bacterial disease, AFB attacks the brood in a beehive. It is super contagious and there is no known cure. Hence, it would be wise to burn and then bury the whole hive when it is down with the disease to prevent further spread. Infected signs to look out for are, punctured capped cells, brood death, foul smell, deformed and disorganized capped cells. Similar to the AFB is the European Foulbrood but it is less deadly and it does not necessarily call for entire hive disposal. The difference between the two lies in the brood death as an EFB would show uncapped brood death with it looking like it is melted away.
This is caused by fungal spores entering the brood and spreading within the larvae, eventually depleting all of its nutrition. As such, the larvae transform into chalklike figures and this transformation is identifiable on the floor of your hive. To prevent this from happening, position your hives in dry and well-lit locations. Furthermore, you can take additional steps to switch out old frames and woodwork within your hive regularly.
No doubt honey is sweet and this would surely invite some pests to come along. As such, let us share with you some of the problematic pests there are out there and how you should prevent their visits.
A few ants spotted at your hive is no surprise but if you find an ant infestation, this could pose a big problem as your colony could abandon their hive. If the ants are in the way, make sure to keep your grass trimmed and have your hive raised high above the ground.
Mice are not so of a big problem during the summer since bees are capable of stinging them. However, during the winter when bees are more inactive, mice will take advantage of the situation to move into hives and wreck their food supply. To counter this issue, install mouse guards in fall so that only bees can enter in and out but mice and other rodents would be barred from entering.
3. Large Pests
By large pests, we mean animals like raccoons, skunks, rodents, and bears. To identify rodents, look out for paw prints or scratch marks outside the hive and move your hive higher off the ground to prevent them from visiting the hive. Besides this, you can also consider getting a fence to install around your hive. On the other hand, bears are capable of destroying the entire hive so it would be better to install an electric bear fencing to keep them away.
When bees exhibit less than docile behavior, they are usually threatened and this could be due to a pest or predator visiting their hive. As such, we should monitor for any signs of pests and any internal hive issues. If such problems exist, it could mean that there is a problem with the queen bee, so always check for the presence of the queen bee. Also, bees may start to act more aggressively when the bees rob from each other’s hives due to a lack of food supply. To address this issue, simply provide some food to the hive which started the robbing of food.
Treating a bee sting
To protect ourselves from any potential bee sting and attack, take the following steps to tend to the injury.
Remove the stinger with a tweezer. You can also scrape it out.
Clean the infected area with soap and water.
Use something cold to compress and prevent swelling from worsening.
Apply a corticosteroid or take pain relievers to ease the pain or itch.
With that, we have come to the end of this article and I hope you have found this article informative and useful. Now that you have a better understanding of bee problems and how to solve them, you can definitely stay calm and ‘bee’ positive about it when you encounter them.