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Spring brings dangerous disease to look out for

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: May 01, 2014

BUZZING: A bee on a crocus.

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THE spring weather has seen bees out in abundance working the fields and gardens, but it's also a time when beekeepers should be watching their colonies for any signs of trouble.

That's the message in this second part of the spring report by Jack Mummery of North Devon Beekeepers: "Spring time is also a time when disease can manifest itself. Responsible beekeepers will be checking their colonies for diseases at regular intervals.

"Some diseases are so serious they are legally controlled and must be reported to Defra and a bee inspector will help deal with the disease.

"Being a member of a recognised group and organisation of beekeepers such as North Devon Beekeepers gives opportunities for training and familiarisation of disease recognition.

"It is often said that disease in bees is spread by beekeepers rather than by bees so any diseased colonies that are untreated is a threat to other colonies.

"A disease that is becoming increasingly prevalent affects the colony build-up and is often referred to as spring dwindling disease as it manifests itself mainly at this time of year.

"It's called nosema and is caused by a microsporidia. This disease debilitates bees, causing dysentery and death. The pathogen attacks the digestive system, producing spores which are released in bee excreta.

"During the winter bees tend not to fly due to the weather and whereas they can distend their rectum to accommodate normal levels of waste products, having dysentery makes them defecate in the hive, thereby spreading the disease spores.

"Eventually if infection is severe the colony will die."

For more information phone Jack Mummery on 01598760209 or mail: jackmummery@mypostoffice.co.uk

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