If you have a particular problem with your health, your doctor will likely prescribe a specific remedy. For example, if you have a particular infection you will be prescribed a particular chemical against it. But there are also general remedies or defences against infectious diseases.
Anyone who has visited a British hospital will have noticed that the abundance of dispensers of liquid for disinfecting and washing hands. Good hygiene is now very much in the forefront, and hand washing is part of this. Hand washing is a general defence against the transmission of pathogens from one person to another.
Hygienic behaviour in the honey bee is also a general defence against disease. By uncapping cells containing dead and diseased larvae and removing the contents, worker bees can reduce the spread of brood diseases within the colony. This is one of the advantages of hygienic behaviour. It is not a defence against a particular brood disease. It seems to be effective against all brood diseases.
Research has shown that hygienic behaviour is effective against American foulbrood (which is caused by a bacterium), chalkbrood (caused by a fungus), deformed wing virus (caused by a virus), and varroa (a mite). In LASI, we have recently tested colonies with Aspergillus fungus that causes stonebrood, a rare brood disease. Hygienic behaviour is also effective at removing larvae killed by stonebrood.
The fact that hygienic behaviour is a general defence against brood diseases can be very useful to beekeepers as colonies and beekeeping operations are often affected by more than one brood disease at the same time. Chalkbrood and deformed wing virus are common in our part of the world and occur in LASI colonies. Happily, American foulbrood is rarely seen in Britain but is common in many countries.
If you are interested in buying a hygienic daughter Queen, visit our store here.
© F. Ratnieks, May 2016