For healthy honey bees, follow this advice from Beulah Cullen (NDB):
- Establish a system of Varroa monitoring and treatment.
- Inspect the brood area frequently for signs of disease. At the very least, bees should be shaken from the combs in Spring and Autumn and every brood cell inspected to make sure that the contents are healthy; if you are unsure, seek expert advice (*). Read the NBU leaflets on brood diseases and Varroa.
- Don’t forget the adult bee diseases. Inspect the adults for nosema and tracheal mites (acarine) at the beginning and end of each season.
- Handle bees gently to avoid crushing them. Crushed bees spread diseases, and will incite other to sting.
- Hive swarms from unknown sources onto new foundation well away from your own colonies, and don’t feed them until they have had time to digest the honey that they brought with them (about two days). That honey may be infected, so should not be stored in comb.
- Control robbing in the apiary; never leave combs or honey exposed to robbing bees. Never feed bees honey, other than their own. Keep the apiary tidy.
- If a colony of bees dies, seal the hive to prevent robbing until you have time to deal with it properly; then check the combs for signs of brood disease.
- Be particularly vigilant when moving brood frames from one colony to another. Are both donor and recipient colonies healthy? Always check for disease before uniting colonies.
- Replace brood comb regularly, ideally every year.
- Sterilise second-hand hive parts with a blow torch before use. Never use second-hand combs; burn them if they come with a second-hand hive.
- Be sure your bees have sufficient stores at all times; if in doubt, feed.
(*) For detailed information on honey bee diseases visit Beebase or Vita-Europe