Apiary Inspection- In 2006, 479 Maine beekeepers registered 7,476 hives. 52,107 hives managed by migratory commercial beekeepers entered Maine primarily for blueberry and apple pollination. Hives were also used to pollinate canola, cranberry, small fruits, squash and buckwheat. Honey bee colonies entered Maine under certification from AR, FL, GA, KS, LA, MS, SC and TX. In 2006, 5,672 hives were issued ME health certificates for interstate movement to MA, NY, FL and GA for cranberry pollination, honey production and wintering purposes. After blueberry pollination, the majority of migratory hives moved to crop pollination (cucumber, cranberry) or to honey production regions in IN, KS, OH, MI, NJ, NY, ND, SD, VT and WI under AR, FL, MS and TX certification. The industry is highly mobile.
Throughout the year 4,898 colonies were surveyed at random with 2,361 opened and inspected for disease and parasites. American foulbrood (AFB) was found in 61 (2.6%) of inspected hives. The incidence of AFB was 0.75% higher in 2006 than 2005. European foulbrood (EFB) was found in 106 hives (4.5%). The incidence of EFB in 2006 was the second highest level in the last 23 years of apiary inspection (8% in 1987). Sacbrood virus was detected in 31 colonies (1.32%). Colony inspections identified additional commercial beekeeping operations and several apiaries managed by hobby beekeepers with American foulbrood (Paenibacillus larvae) strains resistant to Terramycin (oxytetracycline hydrochloride).
The spread of Varroa mites with resistance to pesticides and associated viral complex
(acute paralysis and wingless bee virus) has interfered with commercial beekeeper’s
ability to maintain hive numbers. In 2006, 363 colonies were randomly surveyed for
Varroa via the ether roll and alcohol wash method of which 277 were found positive.
672 additional hives were found with Varroa infestations via drone brood removal,
examination of adult bees and use of bottom board traps.
In 2006, the Department was granted a repeat of the Section 18 Emergency Exemption
for CheckMite+ (coumaphos) for Varroa and hive beetle control. In addition, Apiguard
(25% Thymol) was registered for treatment of honey bees infested with Varroa. The
registration of Apiguard now affords beekeepers with seven materials for the control of
parasitic mites (6 for Varroa / 1 for tracheal).
Throughout the year, 225 hives were randomly sampled from 20 migratory beekeeping
operations and from highly defensive colonies managed by resident hobby beekeepers.
The samples were tested for Africanization via the first step of the FABIS technique (Fast
Africanized Bee Identification System). Test results from 9 colonies managed by five
different FL migratory beekeepers and one hobby beekeeper with a queen of Texas origin
had results with a high probability of Africanization.
The spring and early summer in 2006 was wet and a number of hives starved during crop
pollination. 2006 was also notable due to excessive swarming that occurred after the
rains ceased in late June. Late summer and fall swarming was also prevalent in 2006 due
to the strong honey flow that occurred during goldenrod, bamboo and aster bloom.
During late fall of 2006 a number of migratory beekeepers reported significant hive
mortality. According to beekeepers, the symptoms associated with the dead hives
weren’t typical of Varroa collapse. A working group of beekeepers, scientists, extension
and regulatory personnel was established to investigate the condition first called, “Fall
Dwindle Disease” and later referred to as “Colony Collapse Disorder”.
Throughout the year, the state apiarist made 38 presentations (lectures, workshops, field
sessions and safety seminars) regarding honey bee management, crop pollination,
stinging insects and bee biology throughout Maine and in several states (OH, NY, GA,
NJ, CT) and Canadian Provinces (NB, PEI, AB). Target audiences included commercial
beekeepers, beekeeping organizations, seed companies, fruit growers, private industry,
schools, educators and the general public.
The state apiarist and seasonal apiary inspector also responded to an increase in nuisance complaints from the public concerning honey bees managed by migratory and resident beekeepers in 2006. On site investigations and recommendations were made to citizens, municipalities, companies, and churches with bee/wasp/hornet infestations and swarms in and around homes and buildings.