The American Bee Journal, Vol. VI., Number 5, November 1870
AMERICAN BEE JOURNAL.
EDITED AND PUBLISHED BY SAMUEL WAGNER, WASHINGTON, D. C.
AT TWO DOLLARS PER ANNUM, PAYABLE IN ADVANCE.
Vol. VI.NOVEMBER, 1870.No. 5.
Cure of Foulbrood.
Mr. Editor:—I promised, (vol. V., page 187,)to report how my refrigerator wintered its colony.The frames were covered with a piece of oldcarpeting, and the whole space outside the innerhive packed with straw and shavings. Thisspring it was in splendid condition, and it wasfound necessary to remove brood and cut outqueen cells as early as the 20th of May; and, forthis locality, the surplus would have been large,if I had not been obliged to break up the colonyon account of foulbrood.
You can imagine my disappointment when myapiarian friend, Mr. Sweet of West Mansfield,pointed out to me this loathsome disease in mychoicest Italian colony, early in June, when upto that time I had supposed that everything wasprosperous with my twelve colonies. After athorough examination I found six hives more orless affected, and according to high authority,should be condemned to death. The other sixappeared free from disease at this time, althoughthree more subsequently became diseased.
This is my second summer of bee-keeping, andall the duties pertaining to an apiary were enteredinto with the enthusiasm, and shall I confessit, the ignorance and carelessness of a novice.Yes, ignorance and culpable carelessness, for ingathering empty combs from various quarters,the disease was introduced and spread among mypets. One hive, in particular, of empty combhad the peculiar odor, perforated cells, and brownviscid fluid, with which I have since become sofamiliar this summer; and it seems unaccountableto me, how any person with the Bee Journalwide open and Quinby’s instructions before him,could be so careless as to give such combs to hisbees.
But such was the fact, and foulbrood spreadingright and left. What shall be done to get rid ofit? Shall Quinby be followed, purify the hiveand honey by scalding, and treat the colony as anew swarm; or shall the heroic treatment ofAlley be adopted; bury or burn bees and hive,combs and all? The latter has sent me somefine queens; but the former has always given reliableadvice, and I shall follow his instructionswith two colonies which are past all cure, andreserve the others for treatment, hoping that Imay find some cure, or at least palliative for thedisease, and add my mite of experience, and,perhaps, useful knowledge to our Bee Journal.
Accordingly, June 8th, the combs of the twocondemned colonies were melted into wax, thehoney drained over and scalded, and the bees,after a confinement of forty hours, were treatedlike new swarms; and now, September 18th, areperfectly healthy and in fine condition for winter.
I will not occupy your valuable space with allthe details of my experiments and fights (whichlasted through three months) with the trials ofdoses of different strengths and kinds, with oldcomb and new, with young queens and old ones,and with no queen at all, and how, in doing this,I was obliged to keep up the strength of thecolony for fear of robbers and of spreading thedisease to my neighbors. Suffice it to say, thatafter two months I had made no apparent headway,although still determined to “fight it outon this line, if it took all summer” and my lasthive. In fact, I devoted my apiary to the studyof this disease, and, perhaps, death.
Starting with, and holding to the theory thatfoulbrood is contagious only by the diffusion ofliving germs of feeble vitality, (and I wasstrengthened in my conjecture in microscopicalexaminations, by finding the dead larvæ filledwith nucleated cells,) I determined to try thoseremedies which have the power of destroying thevitality of these destructive germs, these livingorganisms. And no remedies seemed to me morepotent than carbolic acid and hyposulphite ofsoda. At first I used both, making one applicationof each, with an interval of one day, andwith apparent benefit. But, attributing theimprovement to the more powerful of the two, Iabandoned the hyposulphite and used the carbolicacid alone, and I was so infatuated with theidea of its superiority, that I did not give it upuntil three of the four hives had become so hopelesslydiseased, that the combs were destroyedand the colonies treated to new combs (as it waslate in the season,) and freely fed with sugar andwater. These are now in good condition forwinter.
The fourth hive was carried a mile away, thequeen caged, and the colony strengthened witha medium sized second swarm. After all thebrood, which was advanced, had left the cells, Itransferred the colony to a clean hive; thoroughly98sulphured the old hive with burning sulphur,and stored it away in a safe place for future experiments.I now thought my apiary free fromthe pest; but on thoroughly examining the whole,three new cases of foulbrood were found—onevery badly affected, and two slightly so, withperhaps twenty to forty cells diseased and perforated.
This was about the 1st of August, and againhyposulphite of soda was selected for the trial;and from the first application I have had thedisease under control. Three days ago I examinedthe three colonies thoroughly, and foundno new cells diseased in the two which had beenthe least affected; and in the almost hopelesslydiseased one (as much diseased, in fact, as anyof those that I destroyed,) an entire brood hadbeen raised, with not over fifty or sixty diseasedand perforated cells with dead larvæ remaining,most on one comb, and nearly all the cells containeda new supply of eggs; this colony is certainlyconvalescent, and I think now, from therecent and second application of the hyposulphiteof soda, is entirely cured. Still, I should notbe surprised to find two or three, or even more,perforated cells after this second crop of broodhas hatched, as the whole hive, honey, and comb,had been for so long a time so thoroughly saturatedwith the disease, and at least two-thirds ofthe cells had, before the medicine was used, beenfilled with putrid larvæ. If so, I shall treat itto a third dose.
Now, Mr. Editor, as it is frequently of as muchpractical importance to tell how to administer aremedy, as it is to know its name, I will ask yourindulgence a little longer, hoping that others mayimprove upon my remedy or at least test it, ifthey are so unfortunately ignorant and carelessas I was, in bringing “the wolf home to thefold.”
The solution of hyposulphite of soda which Iused, was one ounce to half a pint of rain water.With this I thoroughly washed out every diseasedcell with an atomizer, after opening the cap; alsospraying over the whole of the combs and theinside of the hive. The instrument I use is aspray producer, invented by Dr. Bigelow ofBoston, and sold by Codman & Shurtleff of thatcity. There are two small metallic tubes, a fewinches long, soldered together; and by placingthe point of exit of the spray at the lower partof the cell, the whole of the contents of the cellis instantly blown out upon the metallic tubes.With a very little practice there is no necessityfor polluting the comb with the putrid matter.Place the comb perfectly upright or a little leanedtowards you, and there is no difficulty; yet, if adrop should happen to run down the comb, itwould do no harm, but had better be carefullyabsorbed with a piece of old dry cotton cloth.I quite frequently do this with the bees on thecomb, as it does them no harm, to say the least,to get well covered with the vapor.
It is not at all injurious to the larvæ, after theyare two or three days old, though it may be beforethat time, as I have noticed that after using thehyposulphite where there are eggs and veryyoung larvæ, the next day the cells are perfectlyclean.
There are many interesting points which havecome up during my summer’s fight, which Iwould speak of; but I have already gone beyondall reasonable bounds in this communication.
New Bedford, Mass., Sept. 18, 1870.
To obtain not only purely fertilized queens,but fine, bright yellow ones, I have for someyears proceeded thus:
As all Italian queens do not produce equallyfine drones, I mark those stocks in the course ofthe summer which contain queens producing thechoicest of these. Then, in the following spring,when I desire to have a plentiful supply of primeItalian drones early, and before common dronesmake their appearance in neighboring apiaries,insert in the hives thus selected and marked,combs of worker brood taken from other colonies.I do this in order to make those colonies verypopulous, so as to induce drone-egg-laying; for aqueen will always be disposed to commence doingso, if she is in a strong colony well supplied withhoney, or is well fed. As soon as I find thatthose colonies are becoming populous under thismanagement, I insert some empty drone combin the centre of the brooding space. These thequeen, stimulated by liberal feeding, will speedilysupply with eggs; and when the drone broodso produced is nearly mature, I subdivide thesecombs and insert pieces in nuclei previously furnishedwith young bees, worker brood, and eggs,taken from the colonies containing the choicequeens from which I design to breed, and whichare known to produce the largest, most active,and best marked workers.
As the drones form the brood thus introducedmature several days sooner, than the youngqueens bred in the same nuclei, there is a strongprobability that the latter will be fertilized bythem and consequently produce fully markedchoice progeny, as it is certain that queens willalmost invariably be fertilized early if they andthe drones are bred in the same hive or nucleus,since that secures the simultaneous flight ofboth and obviates the necessity of a wide rangein their excursions. I adopt this process also,because if the Italian drones of the colonies,which contain the young queens, are poorlymarked and dark yellow in color, we cannot reasonablylook for bright and handsomely markedprogeny.
At about ten o’clock in the morning of a calm,clear day, when the young queen is at least twodays old, I feed the bees of the nucleus with dilutedhoney. Drones and queens will then almostinvariably issue at the same time, and beforecommon drones from other colonies or neighboringapiaries are on the wing. Thus bothdisappointment and delay are in a great measureprecluded. I do not stimulate the bees ofthe nucleus by feeding either on the first or thesecond day after a young queen has left her cell,because she is then yet too feeble to make an99excursion with safety. But I have frequentlysucceeded in having fertilization effected on thethird or fourth day, in favorable weather, whenthe nucleus thus stimulated contained both dronesand queen; and in many cases the queens beganto lay on the third or fourth day thereafter. Inthis way, I not only obtain many (I do notsay all) purely fertilized queens; but also verysuperior ones, large, vigorous, and prolific, producingboth workers and drones well markedand brightly colored.
I do not indeed claim that this process givesus absolute certainty, but only a very greatprobability, that the queens we rear will bepurely fertilized. Other bee-keepers too, whoemployed it long before the Kœhler method waspromulgated, regard it as furnishing the mostlikely means of assuring success. Thus, forinstance, the President of the Bee-keeper’s Unionof Moravia, Dr. Ziwanski, who is not a blindimitator of others, but a careful and indefatigableinquirer, never recommending aught foradoption till he has himself tested it with success,found my method worthy of adoption fiveyears ago already, for his annual report for1865 contains the following passage:—
“I made five nuclei this year, with fresh broodfrom pure original Italians. When fitting them up,I recollected a suggestion of the Rev. Mr. Stahala,and inserted both drone and worker broodin four of them, omitting the drone brood in thefifth. The queens of the first four mentionedwere purely fertilized, while the one in the fifthnucleus mated with a common drone. Thisresult induces me to invite your attention to thefact, for it is reasonable to presume that queensmaking their excursions will be more likely tomate with