The diseases of honey bee brood are many and varied but they’re all a bit dark and creepy – like Roald Dahl’s child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The two most serious brood diseases are American Foul Brood and European Foul Brood and these strike fear in heart of all beekeepers but we’ll deal with them later.
Here is a table of the less serious brood diseases. Click it for a bigger picture.
To avoid all of these, keep the bees strong with good queens. If you allow a weak queen or a drone layer to continue, the colony will become enfeebled and diseases like these can set in.
Chalk brood is the most commonly seen here and unless there is more than about 10% of brood affected then it’s not really a problem – a bit like having dandruff or athletes foot. It tends to be bad in a wet summer, being a fungus it likes the damp so keep stocks strong. Stand hives well above ground level and keep vegetation down to allow free movement of air. Otherwise – requeen with a resistant strain.
Chilled brood can always be prevented. Don’t rob a hive of too many bees when making up nucs and don’t go adding great slabs of brood from a very strong hive to try and build up a weak one unless they have enough bees to keep it warm.
Black Queen Cell Virus has been more common lately. Again keep stocks strong and avoid stress which can bring on Nosema. Keep Varroa levels low.
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