How to Prevent Colony Collapse Disorder in Your Bee Hive

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is the name that has been given to what seems to be the most serious die-off of honey bee colonies in decades. As of this writing, no cause has been attributed to colony collapse.

CCD is characterized by the sudden and unexplained disappearance of all adult honey bees in the hive. A few young bees and perhaps the queen may remain. Or there may be no bees left. Honey and pollen are usually present, and there is often evidence of recent brood rearing. This abrupt evacuation is highly unusual, because bees are not inclined to leave a hive if there is brood present.

There are a lot of things you can do to fend-off CCD in your neck of the woods.

  • Become a beekeeper! What a great way to reintroduce honey bees in your area.

  • Keep colonies strong by practicing best management practices.

  • Feed colonies Fumigillin® in the spring and autumn to prevent Nosema. Although Nosema apis is not considered the cause of CCD, its presence can create stress factors that might promote CCD.

  • Replace old comb with new foundation every one to two years. This will minimize the amount of residual chemicals that might be present in old wax.

  • Avoid introducing stress to your colonies (provide adequate ventilation; feed your bees when pollen and nectar are scarce; keep mite infestations in check; medicate against Nosema disease (digestive track illness).

  • Do not reuse the equipment if the colony displayed symptoms of CCD. Such equipment should be stored until CCD is understood better.

  • If you treat your colonies with an antibiotic to prevent or control American or European foulbrood, use Terramycin® rather than Tylan®. Tylan is new on the market and does not have a long track record. Terramycin has a longer history of safe use in bee colonies.

  • Monitor Varroa mite populations and take steps to treat your colony when mite levels become unacceptable.

  • Consider using an integrated pest management (IPM) approach for Varroa control in honey bee colonies. This approach can minimize the need for chemical use in your hives and lessens the bees’ exposure to chemicals.

  • Avoid the use of chemicals and pesticides in your garden and on your lawn. The use and misuse of pesticides is on the short list of factors that might be harming honey bees. Limit the use of these chemicals, or better yet, go natural. Convince your neighbors to do the same.

  • Plant a bee-friendly garden. Good nutrition is vital to the overall health of the colony.

  • Write your Congressional representatives. Funding for honey bee research is more critical than ever. Let the feds know you care about your precious honey bees.

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