Margo, our One-Block Diet editor, told me to write something more
cheerful about bees. Something cheerful because, well, it seems like
it’s just always bad news in the apiary. Ants, mites, small hive
beetles. We’ve battled them all. And now we’ve lost our top bar hive
Califia to what appears to be American Foul Brood (AFB), poor ventilation, and a bad case of mites.
American foul brood is an awful,
horrible bacterial disease that infects
bee larvae, and kills them in their cells. It’s such an infectious
disease that, when found in the hive, all the comb, foundation, and
frames have to be destroyed, and the inside of the hive
“toasted” with a torch.
So here is something happier. I got to play with a propane
torch. That was fun.
It was NOT fun learning about AFB. It’s like a plague, killing baby bees in their cells, and
is often spread from hive to hive by robbing bees and drifting bees (evidently bees
sometimes get confused, or decide to explore other hives, and often manage to
sneak past guard bees.)
We’ve yet to examine Veronica; the weather’s been too rainy.
So we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we don’t discover any foulbrood in
her. Treatment is complicated, and involves antibiotics, which make the honey
inedible to humans, and we’re right on the verge of a nectar flow (if it ever
We’ve got a new package of bees coming soon to rehive one of the empty
hives. Now there’s a really cheerful thought.