Shaking is a nonantibiotic management technique for the bacterial disease American foulbrood (AFB) (Paenibacillus larvae sensu Genersch et al.), in which infected nesting comb is destroyed and the adult honey bees, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), are transferred onto uncontaminated nesting material. We hypothesized that colonies shaken onto frames of uninfected drawn comb would have similar reductions in AFB symptoms and bacterial spore loads than those shaken onto frames of foundation, but they would attain higher levels of production. We observed that colonies shaken onto drawn comb, or a combination of foundation and drawn comb, exhibited light transitory AFB infections, whereas colonies shaken onto frames containing only foundation failed to exhibit clinical symptoms. Furthermore, concentrations of P. larvae spores in honey and adult worker bees sampled from colonies shaken onto all comb and foundation treatments declined over time and were undetectable in adult bee samples 3 mo after shaking. In contrast, colonies that were reestablished on the original infected comb remained heavily infected resulting in consistently high levels of spores, and eventually, their death. In a subsequent experiment, production of colonies shaken onto foundation was compared with that of colonies established from package (bulk) bees or that of overwintered colonies. Economic analysis proved shaking to be 24% more profitable than using package bees. These results suggest that shaking bees onto frames of foundation in the spring is a feasible option for managing AFB in commercial beekeeping operations where antibiotic use is undesirable or prohibited.
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Vol. 101 • No. 4