Inspecting the Hives with the State Apiarist

On May 29th, the state apiarist checked our bees with us. We asked him to come over because Abigail was concerned that her hive was sick. The state apiarist’s job is to inspect hives when asked to, to inspect hives coming into Iowa, and to inspect hives or equipment before the hives or equipment are sold.

He looked at Abigail’s hive first. He knew immediately that the hive was sick.


Here he is showing us a frame with sick brood on it. He is explaining what to look for when trying to identify disease.


The brood in Abigail’s hive had some signs of European Foulbrood and some signs of American Foulbrood. American Foulbrood (AFB) is much worse then European Foulbrood (EFB) because it produces spores that can last in the equipment for seventy years.


The state apiarist looked through the whole hive. By the end of the hive inspection, he was not sure if the bees had AFB or EFB. He took a sample of the diseased brood to send to the USDA lab for testing.


One of the signs that a hive has AFB is if the dead bee ropes. The rope test is done by inserting a stick or toothpick into a brood cell with a dead bee in it. the stick is then swirled in the cell and pulled out. If the bee is stretched so that it looks like it is a rope, the hive most likely has AFB. Some of the dead brood roped and others did not in our sick hive. The state apiarist was very confused about our hive.


The state apiarist suggested euthanizing Abigail’s hive to prevent the bees from infecting the other hives at our house. We euthanized them by closing up the hive completely.

Next, the state apiarist checked Bethany’s hive to see if it was infected.


The hive had no signs of EFB or AFB, but it did have a still uncapped queen cell that we had put in the hive. The bees had not allowed the queen to emerge and we have no idea why.


The state apiarist suggested giving Bethany’s hive the queen from Abigail’s sick hive. This would not infect Bethany’s hive because the queen rarely carries an infection that the hive has.

Next, we looked at Maylyn. Maylyn was doing great. They were still working on raising a queen.


The next hive we inspected was Olivia’s hive. They were also doing great.


Next, we checked the nuc with the queen in it. They were doing good. The queen had a beautiful laying pattern.


The other nuc that we had put a queen cell in had signs of EFB. This nuc had also not allowed their queen in the queen cell to emerge. We euthanized this hive as well.

The other split we had made was doing great as well. The queen was laying and the bees were very busy.

The state apiarist commended us on preventing what we suspected was disease from spreading. We washed our suits, washed our gloves with rubbing alcohol, and cleaned our hive tools by putting them in the smoker. All of this helps prevent the disease from spreading to other hives in the apiary.

The results from the USDA were that the hive had EFB. At this point, we looked into getting medicine to treat the other hives, but we could not find a vet to work with us to get the medicine so the hives remained untreated.


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