‘Bee’ing Clear of Disease?

As mentioned in the previous blog, I have sent a small sample of bees for testing for signs of diseases. The tests were carried out by Dr Mary Coffey (Teagasc Bee Diagnostic Services), who is also attached to the University Of Limerick which is also involved in research into the native Irish Bee (Apis Mellifera Mellifera). There seems to be a lot of interest in bee research in the various educational institutions around the country such as the University of Cork and N.U.I.G., it must be the worldwide demise in the population of bees which is now at a critical stage, that warrants such research.

As this is the first time that I sent a sample of bees, I was a bit apprehensive in obtaining the sample and on my second attempt I got it. To obtain a sample, you need a matchbox and a few co-operative bees, as it will lead to their demise they do not exactly jump into the box for you! I finally got them by using the matchbox as a small scooper. YouTube is great for this type of thing. Once the sample was obtained they have to be posted to their destination. Believe it our not, you can send live bees in the post (I presume once they are clearly marked as ‘live bees’!). I did not send ‘live bees’ but I put them in the freezer when I got home. This insures (a) they do not suffer unduly by the journey and handling by the postal service and (b) they do not de-compose.

I recently contacted Dr Coffey and she informed me that the submitted sample was free from Varroa, Nosema and Acarine which are probably the only diseases that you would want to get. The ones you do not really want to get are AFB and EFB (American Foul Brood and European Foul Brood). The only cure for the latter diseases involves a big hole in the ground, a can of petrol and a matchstick which turns your hive into a massive bomb fire. Nice if it’s in the middle of winter but a really expensive cure. Hopefully, it will never come to that. Nosema affects the digestive system (think what happens after eating bad food), Acarine can cause wing deformity. This testing will be carried out twice a year (Autumn and Spring) giving you an idea of the health of the bees after the summer and how they faired after the winter.

On Saturday, the 12th November the bee group met for the second time. There was a display of equipment and a short explanation of the function of each piece and included a short visit to the hive. Thankfully it was a fairly warm day for November and the bees were fairly active. I hope that all of you who attended came away with some information. These meetings are put on to keep the momentum going until February when the Beginners Beekeeping Course with Fingal Beekeepers will commence. I want to thank those who attended and would encourage those who stated they are interested in beekeeping to come along to the next one.

I hope that you find these ramblings keeps you updated on what is happening with the bees. Email RitaMary or myself on the allotment email address with comments if you want us to include some other aspects on beekeeping.

Take Care, Tony

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