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Acarapidosis of bees is one of the most insidious and destructive diseases that can be encountered in an apiary. It is almost impossible to diagnose it in time with the naked eye and is very difficult to cure. Most often, the disease is detected too late, which leads to the death of a bee colony, or even an entire apiary.
What is acarapidosis in bees
Acarapidosis is a disease of the respiratory tract of bees. The causative agent of the disease is the tracheal mite, the peak of which occurs in late February - early March, when bee colonies are weakened after wintering. Wandering drones and bees act as carriers of the parasite. Also, infection often occurs after the replacement of the uterus.
After the female tick penetrates the insect, she begins to lay eggs. In a matter of days, the hatched offspring fills the respiratory tract, as a result of which the bee begins to suffocate. The result of infection is the death of the insect. When the bee dies, the mite moves to another victim. So, the disease gradually spreads to the whole family through the contact of insects with each other.
Important! The tracheal mite does not infect humans or other animals, so contact with sick bees is dangerous only for other bees.
The disease spreads most intensively during the winter months, when bees huddle together to keep warm. This is especially noticeable in the north, where the winters are long.
Symptoms of acarapidosis in bees
It is difficult to detect acarapidosis, and yet it does not seem impossible. It is enough to carefully observe the bees for a while. The first signs of the disease are the following changes in the appearance and behavior of insects:
- bees do not fly, but clumsily climb around the apiary, every now and then convulsively jumping up and down;
- bees huddle together on the ground;
- insect wings look as if someone specially spread them to the sides;
- the abdomen of insects can be enlarged.
In addition, after infection of the hive with acarapidosis, the walls of the house are vomited in the spring.
Tracheal mite life cycle
The entire life cycle of a tick is 40 days. There are 3 times more females in the population. One female lays up to 10 eggs. Development and fertilization takes place in the respiratory tract. Fertilized females leave the trachea, and with close contact of the host bee with another bee, they move to it. One insect can contain up to 150 mites.
After the death of the bee, the parasites leave its body and move to young healthy insects.
The photo below shows the trachea of a bee clogged with ticks during acarapidosis.
Why bees crawl on the ground and can't take off
One of the most obvious symptoms of acarapidosis is when the bees suddenly stop flying, instead crawling on the ground.
With the onset of cold weather, the fertilized females of the tick leave the trachea and move to the area of attachment of the wings to the body of the bee. The fact is that chitin at the articulation of the wings is softer than in other areas, and therefore more attractive to the parasite. The females of the tick feed on it in winter, which leads to the opening of the bees - a developmental pathology in which the symmetry of the wings is disturbed. Because of this, the bees cannot fold them, and therefore they quickly fall, without really taking off from the ground, and begin to crawl randomly around the apiary.
Difficulties in diagnosis
The difficulty of diagnosis lies primarily in the fact that the tick is not visible with the naked eye. To do this, it is necessary to examine the bees under a microscope with multiple magnification. For this reason, the spread of acarapidosis is most often imperceptible. Mites can parasitize the apiary for several years before the owner of the hive notices that something is amiss.
Before starting treatment, you need to make sure that this is indeed acarapidosis. To do this, you will have to collect at least 40-50 insects with an opening for examination in the laboratory.
Important! Bees are selected not from one hive, but from different ones. It is necessary to provide representatives of at least 3 families for verification.
The collected samples are carefully placed in a plastic bag and taken to the specialists. If the laboratory has established that this is indeed acarapidosis, it is necessary to collect another batch of bees for a second check, only this time you will have to bypass all the hives.
If the laboratory confirms the diagnosis, the apiary is quarantined. Then the treatment of the hives is started.
Advice! If a small number of bee colonies are affected (1-2), then they are usually immediately destroyed with formalin. The carcasses of dead bees remaining after processing are burned.
Treatment of acarapidosis of bees
Acarapidosis is a chronic disease of bees. Due to the fact that the tick practically does not leave the limits of the bee's body, it is very difficult to cure the disease - the parasite cannot be treated with contact substances, and those preparations that can penetrate the tick through the lymph are not strong enough. Therefore, in the fight against acarapidosis, volatile gaseous agents are used. They cause the death of the tick, however, it is impossible to remove the parasite from the bodies of insects. This leads to the fact that the corpses of mites clog the respiratory system of bees and, as a result, infected individuals die from a lack of oxygen.
Thus, it is impossible to cure bees from acarapidosis in the full sense of the word. Treatment involves the immediate or gradual elimination of diseased insects before the mite moves to healthy bees.
How to treat
Sick families are treated with pharmaceutical preparations in the summer, from mid-June to August, in the evening hours - at this time the bees return to the hives. Before starting treatment, it is necessary to remove 2 frames from the edge of the bee houses for better access to insects.
The following agents and chemicals have proven themselves best in the fight against acarapidosis:
- fir oil;
- "Ted Ted";
- "Methyl salicylate";
- "Ethyl dichlorobenzylate".
All these drugs differ in the strength of the effect on the parasite and the duration of treatment. In most cases, it will take several apiary treatments to completely eradicate the tick.
Against acarapidosis, bees are treated as follows:
- Fir oil. From all the variety of fir-based oils with different flavored additives, it is recommended to opt for ordinary essential fir oil. This is a strong-smelling product that the tick does not tolerate - the death of the pest occurs almost instantly. At the same time, the rich coniferous smell does not affect healthy bees. Before treating the hive with oil, cover it with a film. The upper notch is closed completely, the lower one is left slightly open. Then a piece of gauze is dipped in oil and placed on the frames. The recommended dosage is 1 ml per hive. Number of treatments: 3 times every 5 days.
- "Ted Ted". It is a chemical that contains amitraz. Release form: thin impregnated cords. The cords are laid out on a flat surface and set on fire, after which they are placed inside the hive. The lace stand must be fireproof. Number of treatments: 6 times in 5-6 days. The advantages of the drug include the degradability of the substance and harmlessness to bees.
- "Ant" is a product made from formic acid, as the name suggests. The drug is absolutely harmless to bees. One package is enough for 5-8 hives. The contents are laid out in the center of the hives on frames. The holes are not closed at the same time - the treatment with "Muravyinka" presupposes the presence of good air circulation in the house. Number of treatments: 3 times in 7 days. The disadvantage of the drug is that it is destructive for the queen bees.
- "Akarasan" is a special plate that is placed inside the hives and set on fire. Number of treatments: 6 times in 7 days.
- Polisan is also produced in the form of small plates. The processing method is the same, but the number of treatments is much less: only 2 times every other day. This is one of the fastest pharmaceutical treatments for acarapidosis in bees.
- Varroades is another preparation in the form of strips. They are impregnated with a coriander oil-based compound that has a detrimental effect on ticks. Two strips are enough for an average of 10 frames. For small families, 1 strip is enough. After placing the strips inside the hives, they are left there for a month.
- "Bipin" is a drug that is used to treat an apiary with the help of a smoker. It is necessary to drop 3-4 drops of the substance into the smoker, after which smoke is blown into the hive. Processing continues for 2 to 4 minutes. To destroy the tick, you must repeat the procedure 6-7 times every other day.
- "Ethersulfonate", "Ethyl dichlorobenzylate" and "Folbex" are presented in the form of impregnated cardboard strips. These strips must be fixed on the wire and set on fire, after which they are carefully brought into the hive. "Ethersulfonate" is left in the house for 3 hours. "Ethyl dichlorobenzylate" affects the tick more intensively - it is enough to keep it inside for only 1 hour. "Folbex" is taken out after half an hour. "Ethersulfonate" is used at intervals of 10 times every other day. Ethyl dichlorobenzylate and Folbex are placed every 7 days 8 times in a row.
- "Tedion" is available in pill form. It is also set on fire before being placed in the hive. The drug is sold together with a special plate, on which the tablet is placed just before lighting, so as not to damage the house. Processing time: 5-6 hours.
All treatments, regardless of the agent chosen, are best done in the evening, but in good weather. In conditions of high humidity, the hives are poorly ventilated, which can affect the health of the bees.
In the spring months, the apiary is treated after the fly-over is over. In the fall, it is recommended to first remove the honey, and only then start treatment. In no case should the hives be processed less than 5 days before the honey harvest, as some substances can accumulate in the waste products of the bees.
The fight against acarapidosis takes several weeks. Immediately after the last treatment, it is necessary to bring the bees back to the laboratory for examination. The study is carried out twice as well as the first time. Only after acarapidosis is not detected 2 times in a row, the veterinarian lifts the quarantine.
How to treat correctly
Fumigation of bees with acaricidal preparations is considered one of the most effective ways to combat acarapidosis. Processing is carried out according to the following rules:
- The hives are fumigated at an air temperature not lower than + 16 ° С. This condition is necessary - otherwise all the smoke will settle to the bottom of the house.
- Before fumigation, each gap must be sealed with a special putty, purchased or made independently, or with scraps of paper.
- The frames need to be slightly moved apart, as the smoke excites the bees, and they begin to rush restlessly around the hive.
- When fumigating in the summer months, bees should be supplied with sufficient water.
- The dosage is calculated strictly according to the instructions for the substance. An overdose can lead to the immediate death of a family.
- The impregnated plates are first carefully ignited and then extinguished. After that, the plates are suspended in the hives.
- Before fumigating the hive, the entrance must be closed in most cases. On the other hand, the instructions for a number of tools indicate that this cannot be done.
- The optimal fumigation time is late evening or early morning.
- After processing, it is necessary to collect the bodies of dead bees in a timely manner. Those collected by the special are subsequently burned.
Methods for treating acarapidosis may be different, but one condition applies to all variations of apiary processing - the uterus will have to be replaced. 80% of individuals after leaving the hive in the spring will not return back, while the queen does not leave the apiary. She can transmit the tick to her offspring and thereby resume the epidemic.
Treatment of acarapidosis is a long process and it does not always end in success. Therefore, it is important to make every effort to prevent the defeat of the apiary by this ailment.
Prevention of this dangerous disease involves following a few simple rules:
- It is recommended to install the apiary in open sunny areas. Do not place hives in lowlands where moisture accumulates and dampness appears.
- Layers and queens should be purchased exclusively from nurseries that can provide assurance that their bees are not affected by acarapidosis.
- If outbreaks of acarapidosis have already occurred in the region, it will be useful to treat bee colonies annually in the spring with any of the pharmaceutical preparations.
- If at least one family is infected with acarapidosis, all others should be treated, even if they do not show symptoms of the disease.
- After disinfection of the honeycomb and the hive of the infected family, it is necessary to withstand 10-15 days. Only then can they be used again.
For more information on how to strengthen the immunity of bees in an apiary, see the video below:
Acarapidosis of bees is capable of mowing entire colonies under certain conditions, quickly moving to others. This is one of the most dangerous and difficult to treat bee diseases. In the initial stages, it is not so difficult to defeat the disease, but in most cases the infection is detected too late, when all that remains is to destroy the sick bee colonies. That is why it is so important from time to time to carry out preventive measures designed to reduce the risk of infection with acarapidosis to a minimum.