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Queen cage filler
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Queen Cage Filler
As with the shipping of any living organism, there always
exists the possibility of unintentionally including unwanted pests, from
microbes to mites. It's important to us that we be sure not to contribute
to the spread of any disease. To that end, we have come up with an integrated
pest management (IPM) system to provide a clean, healthy supply of attendant
bees for our queen cages and battery boxes. As well as providing healthy
bees, this system allows a single person to fill many cages with 6 or 7
attendant bees in a short time. The queens are added to the cages later
in the field.
An integrated pest management system uses both chemical
and non-chemical means to control various diseases and pests. The following
is a list of organisms and the principles we follow to control against them.
1) Tracheal mites. These mites live in tracheal
tubes of adult bees only. Each spring we start our cage filler hive
off with only sealed brood, without any adult bees present. Without contact
with infested adults these newly hatched workers cannot be infested The
hive is constructed with an electric heating chamber below the brood chamber
which incubates the brood until enough young bees hatch out and take over
the hive warming duties.
2) Varroa mites. These mites are controlled with
Apistan or Checkmite strips. We feel it is better to treat for these mites
in the hives rather than include Apistan queen tabs in the cages, as damage
can be done to the queen if she is exposed for too long a period in the
3) Nosema ceranae and Nosema apis. This is a very important disease to control
because infected queens are often superseded in a few weeks. Feeding fumagilin
(i.e.Fumidil B) is an effective treatment. As well as treating the hive,
we add Fumidil B to the queen cage candy and also to the water which we
give the caged queens as they come in from the field and just before they
are shipped.( Note: It is a good practice for the customer receiving the
queens to continue Fumidil B treatment when the bees are watered each day
before introduction. A small bottle of Fumidil may go a long way toward
assuring success. Be aware though that introducing a healthy queen into
a Nosema infected hive may result in supersedure.)
4) Foulbrood American and European foulbrood are
both protected against by feeding Terramycin in the internal feeder.
5) Other measures taken. Samples of bees are dissected
regularly to inspect for tracheal mite infestation. The debris tray is inspected
for evidence of Varroa mites. A robbing screen is placed over the entrance
to exclude robbers and drifting bees. The hive is isolated from other hives
to prevent infestation. Cordovan bees are used to be able to identify any foreign
or robbing bees.
Operation of Cage Filler
1. Empty queen cages are lined up against the holes in
the front of the devise.
2. The plunger is removed, the hive is opened, one or more
frames of bees are shaken into the cage filling chamber (after inspecting
3. The plunger is replaced and adjusted in height to allow
a steady flow of bees into the cages.
4. As each cage fills with 6-7 bees the cork is pushed
halfway in (for easy removal when inserting the queen). A new cage is placed
up against the hole, and the process is repeated until all cages are filled.
5. When finished, the sliding door is raised to allow bees
to walk back into the hive. The holes are blocked to prevent entry of robbers
or drifting bees.
Varroa Specific Hygiene
( VSH )
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