Help needed for bee disease research trials

I am writing to let you know about some research trials the NBU is running this year for which we are asking for help from beekeepers.Firstly, we are looking at the incidence of 'Hygienic Behaviour' in bees.

This is the tendency of adult bees to uncap and remove dead larvae from brood cells, and has been shown to have a role to play in resistance to some brood diseases, including AFB. It is known that individual colonies differ greatly in the amount of hygienic behaviour they exhibit, and that this is likely to influence whether they can resist disease, or succumb to it.

Following a pilot study last year, we are now looking at the incidence of hygienic behaviour in colonies throughout England and Wales. This involves individual beekeepers testing their own bees by freezing a small portion of sealed brood, returning it to the colony and then recording how much brood is removed by bees after a set period. We have produced a 'hygienic behaviour test pack' which gives full instructions along with all the materials required. All those taking part will be sent a report giving the results of the trial. For further details or to obtain one or more test packs, please contact Dr. Ruth Spinks at the NBU.
(Telephone 01904 462510 / Email ).

We are also continuing our work measuring the effectiveness of 'shook swarms' to as a new method to control EFB. Adult bees are separated from their infected combs, treated as an artificial swarm in a new hive at the same time as being given antibiotic. The old infected combs are then destroyed by burning. Results so far indicate that this method has a very low rate of reoccurrence of disease compared with conventional treatment.
(See our website at for details.)
If you should have EFB confirmed in your colonies during the next month or so and would like to take part in the trial please discuss it with your bee inspector.

Finally, we are also looking for beekeepers with EFB infected colonies to take part in a trial of a biological control agent which is under development as a LINK project with Cardiff University and Vita (Europe) Ltd. For this trial, we need apiaries containing at least two newly diagnosed EFB infected colonies. One of these will be treated with a biological agent (the bacterium Paenibacillus larvae pulvifaciens) and then monitored and managed by us until next season. There will be a payment for the use of the colony in this way, and financial compensation if it fails to survive the treatment. Please contact either me, or Ruth Spinks at the NBU, York for further details.

James Morton
South-Eastern Regional Bee Inspector
Central Science Laboratory
National Bee Unit
Tel/fax: 020 8571 6450
Mobile: 07719 924 418
Address: 'Geertje', Canal Lock 92, Windmill Lane, Southall, Middx, UB2 4NH