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Chronic Bee Paralysis

A mystery disease that baffles researchers is being more commonly reported. It has eluded a treatment, but a British beefarmer has tried an ingenious method that seems to give some measure of control.

Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV) causes honey bees to have symptoms that include trembling of wings and body, jumpiness, loss of flight, loss of hair, and rejection by healthy members of the colony. It can contribute to the death of a colony. Apparently, the virus has also been found in two species of ants and even varroa.

Chris Neel, in the UK Bee Farmer journal (April 2016), found CBPV in four of his colonies in 2012. Two were too far gone to recover and he followed the then conventional advice to requeen the other two colonies which then recovered.

Two years later in a different apiary 40 km away, CBPV showed up again. Research by then had indicated that bee-to-bee contact transmitted the disease, so Neel hatched a cunning plan.

He caged the queen and separated her from the colony. He then moved the brood box 50 metres away and took out the frames, but returned the beeless box to the original stand after scorching the inside to sterilise it. He then shook every last bee from the frames (50 metres away) and the bees that could fly returned to the original brood box site. He was careful not to let the bees mingle on the ground which might have aided further bee-to-bee transmission.

So, the healthy flying bees returned to the original spot and the queen re-introduced. The CBPV bees, incapable of flight, did not return to the colony. He cl;eared up the dead and dying bees in the vicinity so that further reinfection could be minimised.

The colonies survived and went on to produce a good harvest.

More details of Neel’s method can be read in the April 2016 Bee Farmer magazine

The UK National Bee Unit has video of bees with CBPV.




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