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BEES frequently suffer from this disease, particularly during the winter and early spring. It is caused by unwholesome food, unusual confinement, insufficient ventilation or dampness, cold or heat, either separately or in combination. " The presence of this disease is indicated by the appearance of the excrement, which, instead of a reddish yellow, exhibits a muddy black color, and has a very offensive smell. Also by its being voided upon the floor, and at the entrance of the hive," and also on the comb, " which bees, in a healthy state are particularly careful to preserve clean." Bevan. When bees are suffering from this disease, they frequently separate from the cluster, (even when the weather is quite cold) and endeavor to fly. When the weather becomes mild, numbers of them may be seen crawling at the entrance of the hive or on the ground, presenting a bloated or bedaubed appearance, and rapidly dying. At this stage of the disease the hive will rapidly depopulate, unless soon relieved by the return of a warm day, to enable the bees to fly out and discharge their filth.


FIRST. Reject all hives having unwholesome food, as unfit for wintering. For example : honey gathered during wet weather, which frequently turns slightly sour. This honey will be peculiarly thin, and will contain great numbers of minute air bubbles. Such honey is unfit for bees to feed upon. Honey gathered from " honey-dew " also contains a considerable amount of acid, and will render bees that feed upon it, especially in winter, unhealthy, and should therefore be avoided. If bees are fed late in the fall or during the winter, with sugar or honey of an inferior quality, and much of it remains in the cell unsealed, it will attract moisture, become sour, and debilitate or destroy the bees that feed upon it.

SECOND. Avoid confining bees for a long period at any one time, particularly if the weather is warm.

THIRD. See that the hives are properly ventilated.

FOURTH. Have the apiary located on dry land, and the hives kept dry, and allow the sun to shine on them at all times during the spring, when the temperature is below 75 (Fahr.) in the shade, but as soon as it rises above 75, screen the hives from the direct rays of the sun.

FIFTH. Avoid as much as possible opening or otherwise disturbing the bees after they have ceased to work in the fall until they commence work in the spring, particularly when the temperature is below 60. The hives should, however, be occasionally freed from all dead bees and other impure matter.


FIRST. See that the bees are supplied with an abundance of wholesome food. SECOND. If there is no immediate prospect of a warm day, to allow them to fly out and relieve themselves, and the case is a bad one, remove the hive to a room or other place having full light and a temperature above 60. Attach to the entrance of the hive a box having one or more of its sides made of glass or wire screen, or a net similar to the one recommended for catching swarms, (see plate xxxn, fig. 57,) and allow the bees to fly freely in it. They will usually return into the hive as soon as it is dark. After this exercise and their return, the hive should be kept protected from cold, and no light allowed to enter it. As soon, however, as the weather will admit of their flying with safety, remove them to a suitable stand and give them their liberty. All bees after they have been long confined evince considerable uneasiness to fly, even when the weather is quite cold ; they should be restrained by darkening the hive and admitting more air. There is but little danger of giving the bees too much, provided the wind is not permitted to blow, directly on them.


" Foul brood " * is the only contagious disease peculiar to bees with which I am acquainted. Nothing is known at present concerning the origin or cause of this disease ; it seems, however, to have been in existence more than two thousand years ago, yet we have no definite information concerning it until comparatively a recent period. There can be but little doubt, however, that it, like small-pox and other contagious diseases, was in existence long ago, and that it has been perpetuated in like manner. If the one is ever spontaneously produced, so too the other may be. This, however, is an open question.

Mr. Quinby, many years ago, " made enquiries through the Cultivator, (an agricultural paper) as to a cause and remedy, offering a reward for one that would not fail when thoroughly tested." Mr. Weeks, in answer, said " that cold weather, in spring, chilling the brood was the cause." Another gentleman said, " dead bees and filth that accumulated during winter, when suffered to remain in the spring, was the cause."

  • So called by the Germans. Diseased brood by Quinby, and

is probably the same disease as was called Faux Convain by Schirac. According to Langstroth, this disease was probably known to Aristotle, " who was born in Stagyra, Macedon, abont 384 years before Christ."

" A few years after, another correspondent appeared in the Cultivator, giving particulars of his experience, proving very conclusively to himself and many others that cold was the cause." Mr. Quinby says : " Had I no experience further than this, I should, perhaps, rest satisfied as to the cause, and should endeavor to apply the remedy." Several other writers have appeared in different papers on this subject, and nearly all who assign a cause have given this one as the most probable. " Now I have known the chrysalis in a few stocks to be chilled and destroyed by a sudden turning of cold weather, yet these were removed by the bees soon after, and the stocks remained healthy. To me the cause assigned appears inadequate to produce all the results with the larvae. After close, patient observation of fifteen years, I have never yet been wholly satisfied that any one instance among my bees was thus produced." It is a singular fact that Mr. Quinby and Mr. Dzierzon, both of whom recommend and practice the wintering of bees in large numbers in dark repositories or cellars, have been the greatest sufferers from this disease, and the first (as far as I know) to definitely describe and publish its character. Mr. Dzierzon attributed the origin of the disease, in his case, to feeding bees on American honey, but is not sure that such was the fact. Whether they had discovered its existence in their apiaries previous to practicing the above method of wintering bees, does not appear. Information concerning it, from either of them, would doubtless throw important light on the subject. There can be no doubt, however, that in wintering bees in the above mariner, if a single hive in the lot has the disease, the vitiated air arising from it would infect many of the adjoining hives, with as much certainty as if they had obtained infected honey. It has been supposed by some that foul brood was caused by shipping bees across the Isthmus to California. Having made two shipments myself, I am probably as well qualified to judge of this matter as any other person. And I can safely say, that I have never seen anything to indicate such a result. Neither have I found it to exist in any bees when brought into this State from healthy districts in the East. Consequently, I am forced to the conclusion that every hive having the disease when landed in California, had it previously to being shipped from the Atlantic States, and that it has been spread from those, to large numbers of hives previously healthy. " In the year 1848, a fatal pestilence, known by the name of ' foul brood/ prevailed among his (Dzierzon's) bees, and destroyed nearly all his colonies before it could be subdued, only about ten having escaped the malady, which attacked alike the old stocks and his artificial swarms. He estimates his entire loss that year at over five hundred colonies. Nevertheless, he succeeded so well in multiplying by artificial swarms the few that remained healthy, that in the fall of 1851 his stock consisted of nearly four hundred colonies."

" Mr. Quinby informs me that he has lost as many as one hundred colonies in a year from this pestilence. It has never made its appearance in my apiaries, and I should regard its general dissemination through our country as the greatest possible calamity to bee-keepers." -Langstroth. Mr. Quinby says, in the " Mysteries of Bee-keeping Explained," that this disease is probably of recent origin ; that Mr. Miner knew nothing of it until he moved from Long Island to Ontario county, New York. Mr. Weeks, in a communication to the N. E. Farmer, says : " Since the potato rot commenced, I have lost one-fourth of my stocks annually by this disease ;" at the same time adding his fear that this race of insects will become extinct from this cause, if not arrested. He says " it attacks the chrysalis (pupa) instead of the larva." He (Quinby) claims that his experience " goes back to a date beyond many others ; it is almost twenty years since the first case was noticed." (" Mysteries of Bee-keeping Explained" was copy-righted in 1853 ; hence we infer the above was written about that time.) " I had kept bees but four or five years, when I discovered it in one of my best stocks." " A post-mortem examination revealed the following circumstances: Nine-tenths of the breeding cells were found to contain young bees in the larva state, stretched out at full length, sealed over, dead, black, putrid and emitting a disagreeable stench. I learned why there was a scarcity of bees in the hive ; what should have constituted their increase had died in the cells ; none of them were removed, consequently but few cells where any bees could be matured were left." He further says that the cause is uncertain, but attributes its spread to contagion ; that honey carried from infected stocks will impart the disease to the hive receiving it. As a check to the spread of this disease, he recommends that no stock be permitted to dwindle away until plundered by others ; by persevering in this course, he thinks the disease would soon disappear. Mr. Quinby supposed this disease of recent origin, hence it would appear that his was one of the first cases noticed in the United States. At present this disease exists to some extent in New York, New Jersey, in some portions of the New England States, and in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania. From the above places it has been introduced to California and Oregon, along with bees imported during the last three or four years, and is now almost as widely spread on the Pacific slope as the bees themselves. The fact that the disease had been introduced to California was furnished by me to the agricultural jurnals, and was published in March, I860.* It seems, however, to have been known to

  • Previous to July, 1859, I had never seen a case of foul brood,

and was skeptical as to its existence, attributing the death of the brood to hunger and cold. But at the above time some diseased some persons years previous, but w^as not by them made public.


The disease attacks the young bees while in embryo, and at the stage of growth denominated pupa, which they attain soon after being sealed over by the workers. At this juncture, and while in the act of spinning their cocoons, they are suddenly seized with the disease and die within their cells, and comb was shown to me, although it was entirely different from anything I had ever seen, yet I attributed it wholly to bad management, not doubting but it would disappear with different treatment. I paid no more attention to the matter till in the latter part of January, 1860, at which time I was called on to examine some hives of bees that had been purchased from the same party that had exhibited the diseased comb to me the previous season. I found that the bees of some of the hives had swarmed out ; on examining the combs I found them to agree so exactly with the description of " diseased brood " given by Quinby, that I no longer had any doubts as to the existence of foul brood. From information which I received from the East about the same time, I was made aware that large numbers of diseased hives had arrived and were on the way to this State. I then notified a number of persons who had purchased bees of us, to beware of certain bees ; not to permit any of them to be placed near their stocks, as there was danger of the disease being communicated, etc. A portion took warning, while others made purchases of diseased stock, many of which swarmed out on the first warm days of spring and were lost. In most instances they left honey, which, as is always the case, was soon carried off by neighboring bees. Thus many stocks previously healthy became diseased, and were totallv lost.

are suffered by the bees to remain and rot', thus generating a most offensive effluvia, which affects the general health of the bees in the hive where it exists.* After the effluvia subsides, the cells, being nearly empty, are cleaned out by the bees and again used for breeding, (this however is only while a numerous swarm remains) and what seems most singular is, that a portion of the next generation of brood reared in the same cells come to maturity, while in adjoining cells that previously produced mature bees, increased numbers of dead are found. During cold, moist weather, the disease increases rapidly, but as soon as it changes to warm and dry, the disease frequently abates, exhibiting an intermittent character. It is generally about three months from the time the virus is introduced into a hive before the disease appears,

  • Having advanced the idea that the health of the adult bees was

affected by this disease, I instituted the following experiment to prove it : On a clean white paper I dissected twelve bees taken at random out of a hive that was badly affected, over half the brood being dead, and emitting an intolerable stench. The intestines of seven were found to contain excrementitious matter of a dark color and offensive smell, being evidently the result of disease. The other five were found to contain matter of a yellow color, comparing exactly with that of bees taken from healthy hives, dissected on the same paper. This was satisfactory evidence to my mind, that a proportion of the adult bees in hives having foul brood are diseased, and reproduce it in hives to which they may be driven, unless repeated a number of times, during which a portion of them die, and the balance, by being compelled to fly, discharge their filth.

and from six months to two years more before it terminates fatally.* Mr. Quinby says that hives " in which the disease has not advanced too far will generally swarm." I have had no experience in this particular, but think it unlikely that many swarms or much surplus honey will ever be obtained after the disease is once seated. Mr. Langstroth says : " There are two species of foul brood, one of which the Germans call , the dry and the other the moist or foetid. The dry appears to be only partial in its effects and not contagious, the brood simply dying and drying up in certain parts of the combs." From numerous examinations which I have made of diseased hives imported into California during the

  • This opinion was founded on the following experiment : In

the month of February, 1860, upwards of one hundred hives of newly jmported bees, most of them diseased, were placed within one hundred rods of a stock of thirteen full and" healthy hives. Honey from the dead and weak hives of the former being exposed within the reach of the latter, they immediately appropriated it to their own use, thereby planting the seeds of disease, which, however, did not develop itself so as to be discernable till in May, being about three months from the time they obtained the infected honey. Several other instances of the disease being contracted in like manner have also come under my own observation, each tending to confirm the above idea of the time between the infection and the development of the disease. Since the above was written, a case has come to my knowledge where infected honey was said to have been obtained and the disease developed within six weeks ; this occurred during July and August, 1860, yet it is possible that the disease in this case was communicated at an earlier date.

fall of 1859 and spring of 1860, I have arrived at the conclusion that what has been called the dry foul brood is but a condition of the moist, or is chilled brood simply left remaining in the cells, and becoming mummied, which is a thing of common occurrence in hives that are not strong.


I am indebted to Dr. Harkness, of Sacramento City, for his kindness in making numerous microscopic examinations of specimens of brood combs, submitted to him at different times during the months of March, April, and May, 1860. The following interesting letter gives the result of his examinations :

MR. J. S. HARBISON Dear Sir : Having made careful microsopic examination of the samples of healthy and diseased brood combs placed in my hands by you, I find the following conditions to exist ? First, in all the samples of healthy brood, I find the cocoon surrounding each pupa or young bee, whether finished or only partly so, to be constructed with great regularity, the threads of each being arranged in the same relative position, forming a regular system of delicate net-work. Second, in the samples containing diseased brood, I find, in most cases, that death has occurred while the pupa was in the act of forming its cocoon, as I find them constructed with great irregularity, and in an unfinished state. In some of the samples, however, I find cells interspersed in which the larva has entirely disappeared, leaving a residiuum of dark, inorganic matter, emitting a foul and disagreeable odor. Upon examining the cocoon of such under the microscope, I find that it is complete in texture and finish, showing that the pupa was ready to change to a more perfect state of existence at the time of its death, giving rise to a doubt as to the cause producing it. Being apparently the first case to occiir in the hive, may it not have resulted from chill in the winter ? If such is the fact, the effluvia arising from these decaying bodies, in my opinion would, under certain circumstances, poison the young larvae in adjoining cells before being sealed up ; the disease thus engendered proving fatal after the larva has reached the pupa state, and while in the act of forming its cocoon. H. W. HABKNESS. SACRAMENTO, June 12th, 1860.

Chilled brood may be a cause, amongst a combination, to produce the disease, yet I have never seen a case (although I have had chilled brood under almost every conceivable circumstance) that would go to prove such a result.


To detect foul brood, observe the capping of the cells : while those containing healthy brood are of a yellow color and appear regular, those containing dead are of a dark color and are slightly sunken ; (chilled brood has the capping of the cells raised almost invariably) on opening them, their condition is easily seen. The living pupa is nearly white, till it attains the form of the perfect bee ; it then gradually turns to a brown or grayish color. When death has resulted from disease, and is recent, the pupa will be found discolored, being a dull brown color ; but if dead some time, a portion of ropy matter will be found. While if death occurred several weeks or months previously, the capping of the cell will be found entirely black ; on opening it, only a small portion of dry animal fiber will be found at the bottom of the cell. If the disease has caused death several months previously, occasional cells are found of a dark color, and so coated over with wax or propolis as to make them quite oval, and bees do not like to cluster on them. On opening these cells, they are found to contain a small portion of inorganic matter, and to emit a disagreeable small, somewhat resembling that from carrion. This, to a person familiar with it, is sufficient evidence of the presence of the disease. It is possible that where a limited number of the pupa die from disease, and the bees discovering the same at once seal them densely with wax or propolis, the spread of the disease may be prevented for a time. Even the virus contained in honey may be carried in and sealed up, to remain for a considerable length of time, and then fed to brood, causing their death, as well as a farther spread of the disease. Chilled brood, as has before been stated, will mostly have the capping of the cells raised ; on opening them, the young bee is found to be dead, but will show the head and other members nearly developed. Pupa, if dead from chill, at first has a dark streak through its center ; when decayed, it turns of a gray color, arid watery, with sediment not usually ropy. Chilled larva turns nearly black soon after death.

In all cases of death from chill, the skin remains whole, or shows a separate texture from the body ; (at least for some time) while in foul brood the skin decomposes as soon as any other part of it, the whole melting into a jelly-like substance.


No cure has as yet been discovered for this disease, although it has existed for so long a period ; neither is it likely that there will be, other than by a constant watching for and destruction of every vestige of every hive, together with all their contents, whenever found to contain the disease.* This plan has been found to be the only safe one, as every delay and every effort made to cure it by driving the bees, is liable to result in communicating it to healthy stocks. This may be done by removing the infected honey, or by the bees from diseased

  • " Three weeks from the first swarm will be the time to

examine them. It is easily done now, as about all the healthy brood (except drones) should be mature in that time. Again, after the breeding season is over, in the fall, every stock should be thoroughly inspected, and all diseased ones condemned. It is better to do it, even if it should take the last one. It would pay much better to procure others instead, that are healthy." Quiriby. In addition to making the special examinations as above, I would recommend that at any time when a hive is noticed to be in a weak or despondent condition, it be immediately examined as to the cause.

hives swarming out and entering other hives that are healthy. The transferring of any combs, (whether empty or containing stores or brood) queen cells, honey, bees, or any other thing whatever from a diseased hive, or any one that may be suspected of disease, into healthy hives, should be strictly avoided. Neither should any hive be again used that has once been occupied by diseased bees. In any apiary where the disease makes its appearance, or the bees have been exposed to contagion, the formation of colonies, forcing of swarms, and all interchange of combs should at once be discontinued, for by either of these processes the disease is certain to be extended.

NATURAL SWARMS ALONE SHOULD BE DEPENDED ON FOR INCREASE, and they should be removed the same evening that they are hived to a distance of at least two miles from any stock having the disease. Thus, by persevering in the destruction of all that are diseased, and the constant separation of all new swarms as above directed, the disease can be annihilated ; but probably never will be by any other method. Driving the bees from diseased hives and placing them in new ones, has been practiced to some extent, but has been attended by various results. Some have become apparently healthy under this treatment, while isi a majority of cases the disease has reappeared. In fact, the greatest good thus far accomplished by it has been to hasten the destruction of diseased bees, which but few persons not knowing their true interest would do directly. In short, I believe that the time and money spent in diving bees, (particularly if badly affected) will in most cases be worth more than the bees, even if successfully cured. It is both safer and cheaper to establish an apiary with one or two healthy hives at one hundred dollars each, than to start with any number of diseased hives, even if received as a gift.


To bee-keepers who may wish to try driving, I would recommend the following plan. FIRST. Have ready a common cheap box, well ventilated, into which to drive and confine the bees. SECOND. The hive containing the bees to be driven is to be gently opened, if it is a frame hive, at the top, but if not, invert it. THIRD. Have ready some well sweetened water, and sprinkle over the bees, continuing to supply them till they are effectually gorged (this is to prevent their filling themselves with tainted honey). All the bees are then to be driven into the box, as directed in Chapter on Transferring. But no combs or stores of any kind are to be given to them at this time. As soon as the bees are driven into the box and confined, all the combs and stores should at once be so disposed of as to prevent any bees from ever having access to them. FOURTH. This driving should positively be done AFTER DARK ; it can either be done out of doors, on a mild, calm evening, or removed inside of a*building, to allow of a light to see to work by. This precaution is doubly important ; first, to prevent any other bees from getting honey ; second, to prevent the straggling bees from the diseased hive entering others in the vicinity. FIFTH. The driven bees are to be confined in the box till one hour before sunset on the following afternoon, when they are to be placed on their original stand, and the box opened to permit them to fly. After dark, place as much feed within the box (dissolved sugar is best) as they can consume the following day, and again confine them till the following afternoon as before. Now have ready a second box, similar in appearance to the one the bees are in, which is to be put in its place with an aperture open for the bees to enter. The box containing the bees is now to be turned bottom up, a few feet in front of its former position, and the bees allowed to take wing and return into the second box. They should be disturbed to compel them to fly, and if possible the queen should be found and put in the box. The compelling the bees to fly is to allow them to discharge their filth, which doubtless helps to free them from the virus contained in their bodies.

SIXTH. Early on the following morning, place in a new, clean hive, one or more combs containing not less than four or five pounds of stores from any healthy hive ; then drive the bees into it, and place upon the permanent stand, and give them their liberty. Giving them stores prevents the tendency to swarm out, which will prevail if not so supplied. The process of redriving may be carried still further. I would recommend, however, that driving be only done at a time when pasturage is abundant.