"High-risk beekeeping operation" - take 2...

NickWallingford

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The latest NZ Bkpr magazine has a very well-written article in the "National Operations Managers' Report" (pp. 30-33).

It describes several cases of "high-risk beekeeping operations", identifying a range of outcomes and more detail about the operations.

Well worth reading. Several were now on the right track, showing that AFB can be reduced dramatically if not eliminated by good practices.
 

NickWallingford

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Here are two of the beekeeping operations described:

"The spring default inspections of a high-risk beekeeper were completed with less than 0.4% AFB discovered. We are now confident that this beekeeper is on the right track to eliminate AFB from his operation."

"Default inspections of a high-risk beekeeper in Mid and South Canterbury found 1% of hives infected, all at early stages. This is a great improvement from the 28% AFB found just six months earlier."

I would hope that the beekeepers involved might be motivated to identify practices that were used to reduce AFB in this way (perhaps for the PMP newsletter?). How many inspections? How many frames/how thorough for inspections? Any testing or screening? Any restrictions on moving bees/gear between hives? Honey boxes marked for return to same hives?

What other practices would you recommend?
 

NickWallingford

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Not sure what you mean @Grant The NZBkpr article referred to lists a whole series of (good and bad) events relating to AFB control. I was focusing on the 'good' ones and wondering what management practices led to the good outcomes.
 

NickWallingford

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That is an article in the magazine that was delivered to all NZ beekeepers. My motivation in writing was to draw attention to what I consider good writing about the topic of AFB, hoping that anyone who didn't read it might have a further look. And hoping that the 'good stories' might reveal the techniques used to come back from serious AFB issues.
 
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Its interesting to see that Wellington (used to glow like Rudolph's nose) is now lukewarm at best. I think the 'if you cant clean up the AFB on your own, then we're happy to help but we'll charge you for it'-approach is paying dividends. I think there is also a lot more AFB testing in general, especially with honey. But new methods means we can pretty much testing any- and every-thing for the presence of spores.
 
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"Default inspections of a high-risk beekeeper in Mid and South Canterbury found 1% of hives infected, all at early stages. This is a great improvement from the 28% AFB found just six months earlier."
you have to be careful of reading things into this.
this is more likely a case of cleaning up after being on the receiving end of an outbreak.

typically beeks get high afb numbers because they are not inspecting over many years. most likely writing off losses as mite damage.
that means afb is spread through out the supers and it takes a few years to get afb numbers back down as the supers are put on hives, afb found and dealt with.

What other practices would you recommend?
the best method is to find it before you move any gear off the hive and deal with it straight away.
don't let it get into your supers and then spread when those supers are put on other hives.

frankly the no1 reason people end up with an afb problem (ie through out all their hives) is because they are not looking for it to start with.
either not bothering to at all, or making an excuse to not do it, or to short cut it.
with commercials its really easy to have staff who fake checking hives.
 
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Not looking in the first place is definitely the cause of a lot of AFB outbreaks but I've also seen a lot of cases where the beekeeper looks but doesn't see. I have known quite a few people over the years that really tried hard but they were just not capable for some reason of identifying AFB.
 
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where the beekeeper looks but doesn't see. I have known quite a few people over the years that really tried hard but they were just not capable for some reason of identifying AFB.
Or do not want to see it
yeah there is often mind games at play. just want to get on with other stuff or can't see the trees for the forest.
especially commercial where your doing it all day every day, its really hard to keep focused.
 

Bron

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I suppose “looking for AFB & finding it” also depends on how much skin you have in the game. We are always looking, and look really closely at anything out of the ordinary. Pretty well then we have two sets of eyes looking. I’d rather find it and deal with it, because the work you’d have to do if you didn’t find it and spread it is considerably more work, time and grief.
 
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yeah there is often mind games at play. just want to get on with other stuff or can't see the trees for the forest.
especially commercial where your doing it all day every day, its really hard to keep focused.
Agree with that, the mind is a powerful thing and there's times when the last thing you need when looking through a site is another problem to deal with. Another worry, another hold up and it's hot and you've been doing it all day and all you want to see is healthy bees, so that's what the mind sees. I'm not excusing it, but I could see how it happens. I'm lucky, like @Bron, as I also got another two set of eyes looking and checking.
 
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I don't want to blow my trumpet ....but .... I am very good at finding AFB.
I've had a lot of practice.
I vividly remember checking one hive. It had gone queenless and had no sealed brood, but had honey in the brood box and i was about to use it as a second broodbox.
Little voice said "Double chec k JC" ..... so I did.
Flicked the combs looking for scale and the likes, but all I found was two cells that had'nt hatched. I uncapped them ...... one was full of honey, one had a rotten larva that roped out nicely.
One cell in nine frames .....
Thats how difficult it is to keep on top of.
 

yesbut

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I wonder if AFB spores or mycelium show up under UV ? Thinking night time inspection with UV source & specs.
 

tommy dave

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I don't want to blow my trumpet ....but .... I am very good at finding AFB.
i want to do the exact opposite of blowing my own trumpet.

I'm a generic hobbyist beekeeper, been doing it a little while, have a DECA, do the occasional COI check/sign-off for people I know.

I've never found AFB, which means in some ways that i've got no idea whether i'm any good at finding it or not. It feels as though there are issues in a system where people like me can sign-off on COIs, and don't need external inspections - but similarly, given that none of my hives, or those that i've inspected, have subsequently ended up riddled with afb, maybe it's ok? (before people get too stressed - i inspect brood frames almost every time I open a hive, i tend to open a bunch of brood cells each time and expose some poor just capped larvae or assist an emerging bee, etc. But...)
 

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