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Full text of "Rational bee-keeping and the prevention of Acarine disease"

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iil-ii 



ALBERT R. MANN 
LIBRARY 

New York State Colleges 

OF 

Agriculture and Home Economics 

AT 

Cornell University 




EVERETT FRANKLIN PHILLIPS 
BEEKEEPING LIBRARY 







ational Bee-Keeping 

and the 

Prevention of 
flcarine Disease. 




A. M. STURGES, 
Shenstone, 

Hartford, 

CHESHIRE. 

ti-s ^ 



> O 



RATIONAL BEE-KEEPING. 



Prior to the epidemic of Acarine Disease in 1906, the 
most popular strain of bee in this Country was the British 
Black or so-called Native bee. Owing to the low disease 
resistancy of this strain, and to the fact that apiaries of 
these bees act as centres from which the disease radiates, 
it is rapidly being replaced by the more vigorous and 
prolific Italian strains. 

After many years of experiment, with various races 
from different parts of the globe, the Italian strains have 
been selected as shewing the greatest resistance to the 
disease, and though not truly immune, are not liable to 
serious infection when managed under Rational conditions. 
In the cases where bees of these strains become infected, 
the cause of the infection is generally traceable to the use 
of irrational methods of bee-keeping. 

With these strains it is usually possible to eradicate 
disease when this is detected in the earlier stages, this being 
an advantage over the Native strains, which are not 
amenable to treatment, even in the initial stages of the 
complaint. 

As honey getters the Italian strains are superior to 
all others, and have been selected for this characteristic by 
the American Bee-keepers—the largest honey producers in 
the world. 

Queens of these strains are very large, golden in 
color, and exceptionally prolific, building up stocks from 
nuclei in a very short time. 

The strains selected work well in sections, capping 
these white, and owing to their extremely gentle character, 
it is possible to handle strong stocks of these bees under 
all conditions of weather, and therefore to adopt manipula- 
tive measures which ensure absolute freedom from 
swarming. 



During 1021 several stocks which were suppHed on 
four frames in May buih up to 20 frames and yielded 
180 lbs. per stock by mid July. 

Other stocks, wintered on six or seven frames, built 
up so rapidly that nuclei were taken from them and each 
stock (spring count) yielded 200 lbs. of honey by July 9_th, 
and gave three nuclei which were on 10 frames and working 
in the supers at this date. 

A large number of Queens have been imported from 
the United States, and these have been carefully tested 
for some years. 

The strains selected are of remarkably gentle dis- 
position and no stock is allowed in the breeding apiary 
unless it can be manipulated without the aid of smoker or 
veil during the working season. As the whole of the 
surrounding district has been re-queened with the selected 
strain, purity of mating can be guaranteed for 1922, and 
any queen producing vicious bees, or showing incorrect 
mating will be replaced. 

For 1922 the selected drone parents are queens of 
the Ben Davis American five-banded golden strain. This 
strain is exceptionally beautiful, and very active in forag- 
ing : the queens are exceptionally large and very prolific, 
breeding earlier and later in the season than those of most 
of the strains examined. This is a very important factor 
to be considered in the building up of a strain resistant to 
Acarine disease. 

Four Queen parents have been selected for 1922 and 
queens can be supplied from any of these, if orders are 
placed in advance. These breeding queens have been 
selected for temper, prolificacy, working qualities and size, 
and are probably the finest, in these respects, it is possible 
to find in Europe. 

Breeding Queen No. i, selected for the carrying on 
of the strain, was raised in 1921 from a John M. Davis 
American three-banded golden queen imported from the 
U. S. A., and crossed with a drone of Pure Penna strain 
imported from Italy. The young queens of this cross of 



two unrelated strains of pure Italians are of a bright 
golden color, extremely large, very vigorous and prolific, 
and very much superior in all respects to queens of either 
parent strain. 

Breeding Queen No. 2, is an imported queen from 
Italy selected by Signor Penna as a breeding queen. This 
is oije of the finest pure Italians obtainable and produces 
very large and prolific queens of a dark brownish golden 
color. 

Breeding Queen No. j. This is an American three- 
banded golden queen imported from Jay Smith, of 
Vincennes, Indiana, one of the greatest queen breeders in 
the United States. 

Bees of this strain are exceptionally good honey 
producers, working well in sections and capping these 
even and white. The queens are large, very prolific, and 
of a bright golden color. 

Breeding Queen No. 4. A Ben Davis American 
five-banded golden queen imported from U. S. A. This 
queen is not the parent of the queens to be used for drone 
production in 1922: direct inbreeding will therefore not 
be practised. 

Queens raised from No. i Breeder will be available 
at all times from May 15th to September and will be sent 
unless definite orders to the contrary are received. 

In order to ensure prompt delivery of queens of the 
other strains orders must be placed well in advance. 

All queens are raised under the most ideal conditions, 
during the honey flow, in the strongest possible 20 to 30 
frame stocks under the supersedure impulse, the number 
of queen cells in each stock being strictly limited, m order 
to produce the finest queens it is possible to obtam. A 
far larger number could be produced if this method were 
not adopted, but this would be at the expense of quality. 
For full details of methods employed see Bee World, 1921. 

As the greatest care is tajken during the whole 
development from the egg until the queen is mated, and 



as all queens not up to the high standard required are 
destroyed, these queens can be absolutely relied on and 
will be replaced in the unlikely event of being unsatisfactory 
in any respect. 

Four classes of Queen are offered : — 

I. Virgin Queens produced under the best possible 
conditions emerging from cells placed in cages a few hours 
before. It is well known that queens which emerge from 
caged cells are not of so high quality as those emerging 
in nuclei. Virgin queens can therefore be supplied from 
nuclei at a slight extra charge. 

II. Untested mated Queens, produced in very 
strong stocks and allowed to emerge in the mating nuclei. 
These are of very high quality. 

III. Select Untested Queens : selected from the 
above for color, size, and laying capacity in the small 
mating nuclei. These queens are very much superior to 
those usually obtained in this country or from abroad. 

IV. Select Tested Queens suitable for use as 
Breeders. 

These are carefully selected throughout the whole 
development from the grafted queen cups and only excep- 
tionally fine queen cells are set aside for these queens. 
The cells are placed in strong nuclei on standard frames a 
few hours before the queens emerge. The young queens 
are carefully examined for size and color as soon as they 
emerge, and are allowed to remain in the nuclei, after 
mating, until the color of their progeny indicates purity 
of mating. This necessitates the keeping of these choice 
queens in the mating nuclei for a period of 21 to 30 days, 
and during this time the evenness of egg laying and pro- 
lificacy of the queens are carefully tested. 

After this careful selection the queens shipped as 
Breeders can be relied on as the best it is possible to obtain 
from any source, and they are now generally recognised 
as such. Before shipment of these queens, the nuclei 
containing them are gradually reduced in size, so as to 
slowly lessen the egg laying of the queens and ensure 
safety in travelling. 



Travelling Cages, &c. 

The travelling cages used for shipment of the 
Untested and Select Untested Queens are of the American 
long distance type, being very much larger than the cage 
ordinarily employed in this country. Breeding queens 
are sent out in specially made export cages imported from 
the U. S. A. 

The candy used in all cages does not contain honey 
as an ingredient : danger from foul brood, nosema apis, 
&c., is thus avoided. As this candy is unobtainable in 
this country, it is imported from the A. i Root Co., of 
Medina, Ohio. 

Special labels have been designed to render the 
packages plainly distinguishable in the post in order to 
avoid rough handling in transit. 

Safe delivery is therefore guaranteed of all queens 
sent by post, and in case of damage in any way replacement 
will be made on return of the cage unopened. 

All queens are given a consecutive registered number 
and full details kept of their work before shipment. It is 
therefore possible to supply unrelated queens at any time 
afterwards when required. 

Nuclei. 

Nuclei can be supplied on three or four frames from 
June 7th. These nuclei must not be confused with the 
nuclei usually sent out, as they are in reality strong stocks 
condensed to small bulk for shipment... 

These nuclei — ^known as honey production stocks- 
consist of three or four frames of brood in an advanced 
stage of development, well covered by young bees. The 
young bees emerging from the brood within 12/14 days, 
will form a very strong stock which will build up with 
extreme rapidity owing to the very high percentage of 
young bees present in the colony. It is usually possible 
to super these stocks, supplied on four frames, withm 14 
to 21 days of delivery, and to obtain: a fair surplus the same 
year if delivery is made in June. 



Before shipment of nuclei a sample of the bees is 
examined under the microscope in order to ensure freedom 
from Acarine disease. The stocks can therefore be relied 
on as free from disease when delivered, and when rationally- 
managed will remain free from infection. In the rare 
cases where infection is found in these strains it usually 
exists in the initial stages and can be eliminated by intensive 
brood production. In the case of Native bees this is 
generally impossible. 

Where required, all nuclei are guaranteed to remain 
free from Acarine disease within six months of delivery,. 
provided the advised conditions of management are carried 
out. In the event of infection appearing in these cases, 
the nucleus will be replaced free of charge by another 
nucleus of the same grade and size as originally purchased. 

Acarine Disease. 

Prior to the important discovery of Tarsonemus 
woodi by Dr. Rennie in 1920, the whole subject of Isle of 
Wight disease was involved in mystery : owing to lack of 
knowledge as to the cause of the complaint treatment was 
practically hopeless, and in the light of recent knowledge 
the methods formerly recommended for the alleviation of 
the complaint are shewn to be worthless. 

The disease is caused by the parasite breeding in and 
living at the expense of the tissues of the Respiratory 
system of the bee, and the cause is confined entirely to this 
portion of the bee's anatomy. Medicinal treatment is 
therefore of no avail unless the drug can be introduced into 
these organs. Though attempts have been made to dis- 
cover a suitable fumigant, the results reported up to the 
present time are not promising, though it is probable that 
successful medicinal treatment will follow this course. 

Attempts to find immune varieties of bee have not 
been successful and there is no possibility of success in this 
direction. Experiments conducted in 1921 have shewn 
that all the well-known strains can be infected with the 
disease, and that where conditions are favorable for the 
increase of the parasite within the colony, the disease will 
reach the same degree of severity with all strains. 



While some strains — owing to their general charac- 
teristics, and not owing to greater resistance of individual 
bees to the parasite — are found to be fairly immune to 
attack when managed in a rational manner, it must be 
recognised that no strain is truly immune, and that com- 
parative immunity is almost entirely a matter of manage- 
ment. 

Where the older methods of bee-keeping obtain 
disease must be expected, but with Rational management 
the modern strains of American Italian bees can be kept 
free from the complaint. 

During the course of the investigation referred to — 
the results of which are published in Bee World, December, 
ig2i — it was observed : — 

(i.) That British blacks, or Natives, and dark hybrid 
bees are generally foujtid to be infected with the 
disease, and the infection to be in a well 
advanced stage in the majority of cases. That 
when these strains become infected treatment is 
usually found ineffective owing to the low 
prolificacy of these queens compared with those 
of high grade Italian strains. 

Cii.) That while stocks of Italian strains of bee 
headed by high grade and prolific queens are 
usually found to be free from infection, some 
cases of infection are found usually in the 
initial stages. In these cases the cause is 
generally to be found on examination of the 
previous history of the colony. 

(iii.) That the degree of infection found is dependent 
on the age of the adult bees of the colony. 

(iv.) That measures which increase the age of the 
bees of a colony, such as the removal of brood, 
the use of non-prolific queens, prolonged queen- 
lessness, &c., render the colony open to attack 
by the disease, and when infection has occurred 
render the rapid spread of infection certain. 

(v.) That vice versa, measures which decrease the 
average age of the bees of a colony, such as 
the addition of brood, stimulation for brood 



8 

production, and the use of high grade prolific 
queens render the colony practically immune 
to attack, or if carried out when infection is 
observed in its initial stages eliminate the 
disease. 

Prevention of the Disease. 

The method of prevention of attack by the disease, 
and of elimination of the complaint, is pointed out by these 
experiments, and the problem now resolves itself into the 
adoption of Rational methods of bee-keeping. 

By the avoidance of the inbred and degenerate 
British Blacks and strains containing a considerable pro- 
portion of this blood, by the use of exceptionally prolific 
queens of vigorous American — Italian strains and by 
stimulation for brood production before and after the 
resting season of the year, the chance of infection is re- 
duced to a minimum. As the robbing of stocks infected 
by the parasite is the chief immediate cause of infection, 
this should be prevented at all costs, by isolation of the 
diseased colonies, and by reducing the entrances as much 
as possible in spring and autumn. As the parasite can 
only exist in the trachea of the living bee, and dies within 
a very short time of the death of the host, no danger need 
be feared from Acarine disease when old combs from stocks 
which have died from the complaint are utilised — -provided 
the combs are allowed to remain out of contact with bees 
for a fortnight. There is also no danger of infection as 
the result of robbery of hives which have perished from 
the disease some time previously. 

Elimination of the Complaint. 

By the use of a microscope it is a comparatively 
simple matter to detect the disease in the initial stages of 
infection, some weeks before the usual symptoms of 
Acarine disease are visible, and when discovered at this 
stage it is usually possible tO' eliminate the complaint 
during the working season. To make plain the rationale 
of the process it is necessary to explain the course of the 
disease within the trachea of an infected bee. Experiments 
carried out during the investigation referred to previously 
have shewn, that young bees emerging from brood in an 



infected stock, in the final stages of the disease, may become 
infected by the female parasite at the age of six days, and 
that the second generation appears twelve to fourteen days 
later. As migration of the parasites does not occur to any 
serious extent until the trachea becomes congested, and as 
this will not occur within 14 days of the hatching of the 
second generation of parasites, the danger of serious 
migration will not arise until say 35 days have elapsed since 
the original infection. That is to say that in the case of a 
stock of which only a low percentage of its members are 
infected the spread of the disease within the stock will not 
become serious until the bees originally infected have 
reached the age of 5 weeks. 

If these infected bees, are removed from the sphere 
of action before they attain this age, the disease will not 
increase within the colony, but will gradually diminish and 
finally disappear. ■ 

The main object of the method of treatment is 
therefore the elimination of the older members of the in- 
fected colony : this can be carried out in two ways : — 

(i). By wholesale isolation of these bees by artificial 
swarming and collection of the adult bees on 
the old stand. 

(2). By so greatly increasing the work of these adults 
as to appreciably shorten their lives. This is 
best effected by intensive brood production 
stimulated by feeding, and by the addition of 
"hatching" brood from other colonies, thus 
increasing the nurse bees of the treated colony 
out of all proportion, and consequent stimulation 
of the queen. 

A combination of both methods is frequently advis- 
able in cases where the infection has advanced beyond the 
initial stages, and has so far developed that the second 
generation of parasites are found in the trachea. 

It is extremely difficult to diagnose the complaint 
from symptoms, especially during the earlier stages of the 
disease, but any gradual change in the character or manner 
•of the colony should be viewed with suspicion. Spring 



10 

dwindling, slowness in building up, and change in temper 
are frequently indicative of disease, but cannot be relied 
on as diagnostic symptoms. The only reliable and 
accurate diagnosis possible is the examination of a number 
of the foraging bees under the microscope, and this should 
be carried out by all modern apiarists from time to time. 

Preparations for Winter. 

As the critical period of the year as regards Acarine 
disease is during the winter months, when owing to lack 
of foraging, and the practical absence of brood production, 
the average age of the bees composing the colonies, 
becomes high, and infection, where present, spreads with 
extreme rapidity, it is necessary to prepare for this period 
some months in advance, and to ensure the absence of 
infection within the colony before the advent of winter. 

In order to carry out this programme efficiently, the 
treatment should commence immediately after the termina- 
tion of the honey flow of the district. 

Where increase is desired the stocks should be 
divided by artificial swarming, and collection of the adult 
bees with the old queen on the original stand. This colony 
is stimulated for brood production and when established 
is re-queened by a young and vigorous mated queen of 
the selected strain. 

The young bees on the new stand should be re- 
queened as soon as possible, by the introduction of a 
similar queen, and stimulated for brood production as 
before. Stimulation for the production of brood should 
continue in all cases until the first or second week in 
September, when rapid feeding should commence, in order 
to provide the stores necessary for the winter months. 

Where increase is not desired, the original stock 
should be re-queened if free from disease, but where infec- 
tion is found an artificial swarm should be made, and the 
adult bees collected on the old position utilised for the 
production of brood to be given to the main colony, which 
has been moved to the new position. In this case the old 
queen should be allowed to remain with the adult bees. 



11 

Annual re-queening is an absolute essential, as it is 
extremely difficult to stimulate an old queen of the previous 
year, to the extent required. 

Spring Treatment. 

Where the winter has been niild — as experienced 
during recent years — it is advisable to place a cake of candy 
on the top of the frames in February, as this is a great 
stimulant at this period, and generally results in the very 
early production of brood. 

As soon as pollen is carried into the hive in quantity, 
the quilts may be i-aised on a warm day, and some of the 
outer combs of food uncapped without causing undue 
disturbance of the bees. If short of food, this may be 
given as candy, or as syrup by means of a brood nest feeder. 
The uncapping of the food combs should be gradually 
extended, from time to time, until all combs containing 
food have been treated in this way, with the exception of 
those containing brood. 

The object of this treatment is the utilisation of the 
stores of the colony before the spring feeding commences, 
so as to prevent the filling of the combs with food, and the 
consequent limitation of the brood space. 

When all food combs have been treated as advised 
the spring feeding should commence and the stock will 
rapidly build up, new frames being given as required until 
the stock covers 20 brood frames by the first or second 
week in May. 

When this stage is reached the Demaree method of 
swarm control should be practised, the queen being con- 
fined to the lower brood chamber, by means of a wire 
queen excluder, and kept supplied with egg laying space, 
by interchange of combs from above with those down 
below. 

As swarming can be entirely prevented by this 
method, the yields of honey are very much larger than 
generally obtained, as the stocks can be worked of very 
much greater strength. 



12 

General. 

The syrup used for winter feeding is of the strength 
usually recommended for this purpose in the text books, 
but the addition of one of the advertised antiseptics — 
preferably Yadil — is advisable as a preventive of foul 
brood, nosema apis and mildew. 

In spring feeding the use of antiseptics is not recom- 
mended, owing to the danger of this being transferred to 
the honey comb. 

It will be noted that the use of candy is advised 
during the spring, but except in cases of extreme urgency, 
should not be given as winter stores. Candy is not a 
suitable winter food for bees, as it is apt to become moist 
during the cold season of the year and to ferment and cause 
dysentery. 

Guarantee against Acarine Disease. 

Before shipment, all nuclei are microscopically 
examined for the parasites causing Acarine disease and can 
be relied on as absolutely free from infection. In the 
unlikely event of infection occurring within 6 months of 
delivery, the nucleus will be replaced free of charge by a 
nucleus of similar size to the one originally supplied, pro- 
vided the following conditions have been observed : — 

(i). Nuclei must be stimulated for brood production 
until well established on 9 or 10 frames. 

(2). Swarming must be prevented by the adoption of 
the Demaree system, or other similar methods. 
Where swarming occurs, resulting in the isola- 
tion of the adult bees of the colony, the 
guarantee does not apply to the swarm, but is 
transferred to the original stock on the old 
stand, provided this is given a young laying 
queen of the same strain within 14 days. 

(3). Immediately after the honey flow the original 
stock must be re-queened, and must not remain 
without a laying queen for a period exceeding 
10 days, and the stock must be stimulated for 
brood production at this time. Where increase 
is desired the guarantee does not apply to the 



13 

colony containing the adult bees of the original 
colony, but as, in the case of swarms, to the 
original colony consisting of young bees on the 
new stand. 

(4). Samples of the adult foraging bees must be sent 
for examination when required, and in case of 
suspected disease a sample must be sent to an 
independent microscopist whose decision shall 
be taken as final. 

(S). This guarantee applies to Acarine disease only — 
formerly known as I. O. W. disease — and the 
presence of Tarsonemus woodi in the trachea of 
the suspected bees shall be taken as proof of 
infection. 



Price List of Queens and Nuclei. 

SEASON 1922. 



Queens. Delivery from June ist. 

Young Queens raised from No. i Breeder (J. M. 
Davis Queen by Penna Drone) and No. 2 Breeder (Pure 
Penna Strain) can be supplied at any time during the season. 

Young Queens of Ben Davis golden strain, and Jay 
Smith three-banded strain can be supplied if ordered before 
May 1st. 

Virgin Queens : hatched in cages, 6/- ; hatched in 
nuclei, 7/6. 

Mated Queens : .untested, 12/6 ; select untested, 
15/-; select tested breeders, 25/-. 

Delivery strictly in rotation, unless orders are placed 
one month in advance, except under special circumstances. 

Discounts : 5 per cent, to members of the Apis Club; 
i/- per fertile queen on orders placed before April ist; i/- 
per fertile queen if ordered in lots of 6. 

Nuclei. Delivery from June 7th. 

These consist of sheets of advanced brood well 
covered by young bees. 

Quoted without queens. Cost of queen selected to 
be added to cost of nucleus. 

Three frames of advanced brood well covered by 
bees, £3 los. od. 

Four frames of advanced brood well covered by 
bees, £4 los. od. 

Carriage paid. 10/- deposit required on travelling 
box, to be. returned on safe receipt of box within 10 days 
of shipment of nucleus. 

A. M. STURGES, 

Shenstone, Hartford, Cheshire.