Those Bees From Minnesota

Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.

One of my friends announced at the last South Western Ohio Beekeepers Meeting that he had ordered a package of Minnesota Hygienic bees for his new hive. No one knew what he was talking about.

I decided to do some research on his new bees.  I was very impressed with what I found.

Minnesota Hygienic Bee

Minnesota Hygienic Italian bees were developed by Dr. Marla Spivak at the University of Minnesota Bee Lab. “Hygienic” refers to the ability of the bees to “sniff out” disease- infected pupae and remove them from the hive before they can spread disease to the rest of the colony.

Any type of bee can be hygienic, and Dr. Spivak estimates that approximately 10% actually are.

Hygienic behavior of honey bees is their primary natural defense against the diseases American foulbrood and chalkbrood  Hygienic bees detect, uncap, and remove diseased brood from the combs before the diseases become infectious.

Hygienic behavior also is one defense against Varroa mites.  Although it is not the main mechanism of resistance to the mites, it appears to limit their reproduction and population growth to some degree.

Dr. Spivak believes the answer to bee diseases is to breed a better, more disease-resistant bee, not to treat with chemicals. She also stresses the importance of good beekeeping practices, such as replacing old comb and using clean tools and wooden ware.

There is a wonderful online course on the University of Minnesota website entitled “Healthy Bees.”  It costs $25.00 and provides a lot of helpful information about keeping bees healthy and minimizing chemical treatment.

As my Bee Guru Michael Bush has said:

“The other side of helping bees with treatments of pesticides and antibiotics is that you keep propagating the bees that can’t survive. This is the opposite of what we need. We beekeepers need to be propagating the ones that CAN survive. Also we keep propagating the pests that are strong enough to survive our treatments. So we keep breeding wimpy bees and super pests.”

Down with Wimpy Bees!  Let’s hear it for those bees from Minnesota!

5 thoughts on “Those Bees From Minnesota

  1. Minnesota bees could mentor our European bees about varroa management! This is interesting because I’ve started reading that some UK beekeepers are trying to breed bees that show patterns of hygienic behaviour. Bees are so clever, it would be just like them to sort out these problems by themselves without our help!

  2. mossandivy says:

    I’m so excited about having bees. I will definitely be ordering this new kind of bee.
    Thanks for all your great posts.

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