A way to combat CBPV?

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Yes. Still am. I’ve lived so many places I don’t belong anywhere

Been there, done that. I've been more settled since having children, but I have a genuine claim to be a Cockney without actually ever having lived in London, and at one point in my childhood attended five different schools in a period of eighteen months (without being expelled from any of them :D). Until I was in my late 30s I don't think I lived in any one place for longer than six years and prior to moving here my average was about three and a half years.

Happy to report that my colony appears to have recovered from CBPV after being left for 6 weeks, raised up on breeze blocks and bricks and without its OMF. Full inspection today; lots of brood, calm bees, 3 supers well on there way to being capped. Could not find any evidence of CBPV - no black shiny bees or trembling ones. Have removed the bricks etc and replaced the OMF.
OK, some have asked me to set out the theory of the no floor method of dealing with CBPV.
Can I just state that this is not 'my' idea, just something that came up in discussion between a few RBI's and bee farmers when we were being put through the hoops for our DASH accreditation a few weeks ago.
I'm not going to go into great detail about the disease (Cos I'm not that erudite nor am I a scientist) but basically Chronic bee paralysis virus is an unclassified bipartite RNA virus transmitted through two main mechanisms. The first mechanism is viral transmission through bee faeces, which remains on the hive floor and can be picked up on the furry legs of other bees and ingested orally. The second mechanism is through close contact between bees in the hive. Worker bees are the most susceptible to infection, since they travel the hive most frequently. The infection may spread between hives as a result of indirect contact or direct contact between honey bee.
No 'cure' has been found for CBPV yet, no magic elixir or super drug.
One thing you should not do is what some bee farmers tried in desperation and ignorance of all the factors when it first flared up was to do what was labelled a 'vertical shook swarm' which was done by caging the queen, taking the colony away from the hive stand then shaking the workers off by throwing them in the air in the belief that all the infected bees would just fall to the floor and the healthy bees would return to the stand and a new clean hive with fresh frames and the queen.
This does not work as one of the symptoms of the virus is disorientation and loss of homing instinct, so all you got was a load of confused bees begging their way into any old hive and spreading the virus to other colonies.
OK. back to what you can do.
The virus seems to flare up when bees are overcrowded or under stress, so the first thing to do is try and give them more room so they are not so closely packed, thus reducing contact (Hmm, that sounds familiar) between individual bees.
Now this next method is something that it being unofficially trialled and monitored at the moment and it has given successful results in almost all cases.
CBPV is spread by contact from bees walking through infected bee faeces on the hive floor, and especially mandibular contact - the higher risk of this is when the mortuary bees have to carry virus infected dead bees out of the hive (and at its height there are a lot of corpses)
So let's remove the floor - this way there is no contact with infected faeces and no piles of corpses waiting to be carried out.
When all this was being explained to us the first thing we were told is 'forget your 'pallet hive stands folks' so
  • You need a 'proper' open railed hive stand about 12 to 18" high so any corpses fall well outside what the bees consider their 'indoors'
  • get/make an eke, doesn't really matter how deep, you could even use an empty shallow
  • you don't really need a proper entrance at the front of the hive, the hole in the floor will suffice, do away with any landing board [My contribution]
  • Put the eke on the stand instead of a hive floor
  • Take the brood box off its floor and put it on the eke - job done
Obviously there are other considerations, like the risk of robbing etc. with a strong(ish) colony, this shouldn't be an issue so it's up to the beekeeper to monitor and to consider the time of the year when it is done. Feedback so far was that even when there were wasps around, the bees coped.
Same goes for the timeframe, suck it and see - monitor and watch for improvement
as for other secure considerations, I'm sure peole are imaginative enough to work something out, just remember - you need a decent height below the brood frames so that the corpses fall well without what the bees consider the hive, I don't think enclosing the whole thing off down to the floor level is a particularly good idea as the bees may just consider tidying it up.
Collecting the dead bees and disposing them away from the colony is a good idea. the simplest and best dea I think would just be a sheet of polythene or an old fertilizer bag weighed down under the hive whick you can then just gather up and take away to shake the dead bees out onto your compost heap or whatever.
Very interesting thank you

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