I am registered to take the test to be designated an Apprentice Level beekeeper which is the first step in becoming a Master Beekeeper in the State of Texas. I will take the test in November in San Antonio at the Texas Beekeepers Association Annual Convention. The program provides this study guide, but I haven’t been able to find a comprehensive place to find all of the actual information. So, I decided to create one. This is the first in a series of articles I’m writing where I pull together the information on each section of the test.
Please understand that I have not taken the test and am currently studying for it. I don’t know what will actually be on the test. Watch for another article where I’ll summarize the experience of taking (and hopefully passing) the exam.
The first section on the study guide covers honey bee diseases. The process of studying this section feels a little bit like watching a medical show where you become anxious that you could possibly have every malady they discuss. As I’ve been studying these diseases I find myself thinking “Have I seen that in my hives?”. In fact, I did a short hive inspection this morning and had my eyes peeled for today’s subject which is American Foulbrood.
American Foulbrood feels like probably the worst thing you could have in your hive. By the time you actually SEE American Foulbrood in your hive, it’s too late. You have to burn the hive, the bees and all of the equipment. There’s no getting over it. Certainly something you want to avoid.
Spotty Brood Pattern:
When you see a spotty brood pattern, consider American Foulbrood. That’s the first sign. Of course it could also be just a failing queen or something similarly fixable. Do keep your eyes out for the rest of the signs.
American Foul Brood kills the larve under the cap. After the larve dies, the cap sinks in.
Greasy Looking Cap:
The cap over affected cells also can develop a greasy sheen.
After the larve dies, the cap sinks and looks greasy, the nurse bees try to take care of the mess and poke holes in the cap to try to clean out the cell. Don’t be worried when you see a hole in a cap caused by a bee being born. That’s different.
Once you spotted the signs listed above there are a couple of more steps you can take to verify the presence of American Foul Brood. (Of course, to definatively diagnose requires a lab test.) For one thing, you can stick a match stick into a sunken cell and draw out the liquified larve inside. If it makes a string (a rope) of at least 1/8 inch when you pull it out, that suggests American Foul Brood. Then you should look for “scale”. Scale is the dark dried larve after it has sunk to the bottom of the cell. Remember that looking into the bottom of the cell when the frame is upright means you should hold the frame by the top bar and look across the foundation.
Here are some helpful links that include photographs and videos for further information on American Foulbrood.