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Nosema disease only affects adult honey bees, by parasitizing the cell wall of the midgut. As a result, infected bees have difficulty to absorb nutrients from ingested food, resulting in weakness and shortened life expectancy.
For Nosema detection, adult bees are examined microscopically or through PCR testing1.
Standard microscopic detection method:
To determine the level of infestation, a haemacytometer can be used to calculate the number of spores per adult bee (see Factsheet #203A - Counting Method of Nosema Spores).
To submit a sample for Nosema identification, collect at least 25 adult bees in tissue paper or paper bag (no plastic), freeze for 24-48 hours, and mail to the Apiculture office.
Nosema disease mostly occurs when bees have been confined to the hive for a long time, and when there is moisture build up and poor circulation.
Successful treatment involves antibiotic application to the colony and the cleaning of beehive equipment.
The antibiotic fumagillin (trade name Fumagillin-B) offers effective control. Do not feed antibiotic to the colony unless Nosema disease has been confirmed.
Application method is as follows:
The best natural defense against Nosema disease is a strong healthy colony with a prolific queen and sufficient food stores, especially pollen, in a well-ventilated hive body.
Boxes, inner covers and bottom boards must be scrubbed clean inside and out with hot water and soap. Scrape top and bottom bars.
Equipment can also be sterilized through irradiation at the Iotron facility in Port Coquitlam (www.iotron.com).
1 PCR = Polymerase Chain Reaction. This test method identifies organisms by comparing a section of gene material of the test organism with a comparable piece of known composition. The technique was developed and introduced in the 1990s and has become standard procedure in forensics, medicine and wide range of other disciplines.