Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Anxious Bee Keeper

Bee with Varroa Mite, that red dot on the head of the bee.

I am an anxious person. I fret, I stew, I worry. It is who I am. Half measures avail me nothing so I do it well and I do it with enthusiasm. Colleen's Royal Ruckus has been the object of my worry since we last went to the bee yard. After reading and consulting as many folks as possible, I just couldn't get AFB out of my head. Experienced beekeeper after experienced beekeeper weighed in. They all said Verroa. It was unanimous. Not a single bee keeper suggested something other than demise from the mighty mite! I meant to bring some of the frames from Royal Ruckus to the Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers meeting earlier this month but I was so preoccupied with Marla showing up as the guest speaker that I forgot.

To make matters worse, Gary, Marla's side kick and beekeeper extraordinaire decided it would be a good night for show and tell and brought in some frames with AFB. "Can you smell that?" he asked the group. The telling sign of AFB, its stench. I moved closer to the desk to inspect and smell the frames. Damn they smell and look like my frames. Gary started pulling out the scales left on the bees from the AFB spores and used an ultraviolet light to show them to us. I started to panic, my heart was pounding.

I was sick, really. It was like discovering I had sexually transmitted disease. I felt dirty! All of my equipment would need to be burned to the ground. Nothing short of that would stop the spread of the disease. I imagined my next trip to the bee yard finding more hives gone. I could hardly listen to Marla. I wanted to get home and look at my frames again. I "borrowed a UV light" thinking somehow I might see the scales Gary showed up. Mostly the sweet stench of the frames stayed in my nose.

I inspected, smelled, inspected, smelled some more, watched ytube videos, read and looked at those frames until my anxiety completely consumed me. Finally I got up the courage to email Jim. Before I got my bees from Kentucky I ordered bees from Jim. He emailed back immediately. "You are more than welcome to bring the frames to me to look at but your bees left because of Verroa" I stewed all day until 4pm and then packed the bee mobile with my over sized Tupperware containers filled with frames from Royal Ruckus. I had to know for sure. When I got to Jim's and started unloading containers from the car, all three of them he laughed. "Verroa, Verroa, Verroa".  I explained that after Gary's show and tell at the last meeting I just couldn't get AFB out of my head and that the smell of my frames was just like the AFB frames Gary had. Jim opened the Tupperware. "These smell fine, that's just the smell of dead brood. Your bees had Verroa." He looked through the frames, opened a few caps and then commented on how much pollen and wax there was. "These will be great in the spring, just spray them with sugar water and put them in a new package. You will have honey in June." He also confirmed that robbing had taken place. I more or less knew that from the torn open cells but since I had never seen it before I showed him some of the super frames that were all torn apart.

Before I left Jim advised me to put the frames out in the cold and make sure they get frozen through and through. I could have small hive beetle or wax moths in the frames and the only way to kill them is to freeze them. As soon as it is cold enough leave them outside until they freeze through, he told me. I sort of figured I should do this but I can use all the help I can get! It would be just as shameful to loose all my comb to wax moth as it would be to have AFB. Well maybe not just as shameful but it would be really sad and wasteful especially since I can prevent that.

Beekeepers are the most generous folks in the world. I continue to be amazed by their generosity. I can show up anywhere any time at a hobby bee keeping meeting, send out emails to bee keepers I hardly know and they always respond quickly and with insight. They offer to look at anything, come down to my apiary, what ever might help to solve my delima. They offer up suggestions and ideas, never hiding behind the family recipe for success. They genuinely want everyone to be successful. I still feel like a novice, heck I had never seen comb torn up by robbing before and had to have someone look at my comb to tell me that is exactly what I was looking at. Right now my email box is hardly filling up with requests for help and no one is seeking me out at the meetings for an opinion but some day I hope to return the generosity and be there for that novice like myself who doesn't know the difference between the stench of dead brood and AFB.

1 comment:

GFGidget said...

Phew! I was worried for you. Glad it's just the big V!