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Monday, February 02, 2009

Nosema or no nosema?

In the winter cluster, the bees do not relieve themselves. On a warm day, they finally can fly and they are desperate to get rid of their bodily waste. This hive, Mellona, has a splatter of diarrhea on the front just above the entrance after a warm day for the bees. I should note that the warm day came after a number of below freezing days in a row.

One worry I might have is that the bees may have nosema. Cindy Bee (really her name) a local bee authority and friend/mentor of mine told me not to worry about it. She sees it most winters and simply cleans the area of the hive box, but doesn't do anything for the bees. They get over it naturally.

In an old post from 2003 on Beesource, Michael Bush said, "How do you know they have nosema?" Diarrhea is not necessarily nosema. There are a lot of things that give them transient diarrhea. Just because you get the runs for the day does not mean you are dying of giardia."

Nosema is an opportunistic disease and it thrives with weaker hives - due let's say to stress or fighting off the winter cold in a cluster. However, diarrhea may be caused by stress and not mean that the hive has nosema.

Cindy says that to clean off the hive helps stop the spread of the problem if it is nosema. My plan is to clean the hive box off on the next warm day (not tomorrow when the high will be in the low 40s, but maybe this weekend) and to hope the bees with the upset tummies can make it through the winter.

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  1. aww well I hope it's just temporary and not nosema

  2. Anonymous1:10 AM

    ... well written people, I enjoy a good, interesting blog!

  3. Anonymous1:34 PM

    Well Linda, are the photo's of nosema or diarrhea? -john

  4. The photos are of diarrhea but diarrhea is a symptom of nosema - can't take a picture of nosema without a dead bee and a lab microscope!

  5. According to H. Storch's, At the Hive Entrance, the following are all indicators that nosema may be present:

    1. Isolated bees flying away, brown faeces at the hive entrance, on the alighting board or on the snow near the hive.

    2. A badly soiled hive entrance gives off heat and spreads an odor resembling that of fresh bread.

    3. Bees fall to the ground where they gather together in small clusters, running and jumping
    here and there.

    4. The hive entrance and the area in front is spread with liquid, light yellow faeces.

    5. A quantity of dead bees on the bottom board sometimes forming a layer the thickness of a

    According to Storch, the last three symptoms are the strongest indicators. The first two symptoms are common to many different conditions, including: unclean winter food stores, too cold a hive, bad weather and queenlessness. The last symptom may also indicate that the colony is beginning egg laying very early.

  6. linda try to feed some tea tree oil to them. 5-7 drops in qt of honey mix well give 1/3 QT 1 time for 3 weeks should see a big difference.

  7. newbeegirl8:26 AM

    Did the hives end up having nosema? I had a similar pattern happen with my bees on a warm day a couple of days ago, and was worried about them. Not very heavy streaking, but there were a few clusters of bees although they didn't seem to be "running and jumping here and there."

  8. The hive survived the winter and I didn't send the bees off for testing because everything seemed OK. That hive later died but it was because of my error and not because of nosema


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