Are you ready to determine what’s wrong with this colony? We’ll do this together, starting with a differential diagnosis. In case you’ve never watched medical dramas on television, I will explain. A differential diagnosis is a procedure that doctors use to help determine a disease or condition. It is used when the signs and symptoms could be the result of several or many different things. In short, it’s a way to muddle through the confusion.
In practice, the doctor may perform a physical exam and take a health history. The patient may be quizzed about lifestyle choices, the health of family members, as well as his workplace conditions, diet, activity levels, and sexual preferences. He may be asked about travel to foreign countries, exposure to chemicals, or bouts of unexplained illness. And if the patent is a television character, the doctors end up going to his house and examining the contents of his garbage and refrigerator. All this is followed by a battery of lab tests.
A failing colony
In this instance, the patient is a colony of honey bees. The photos were sent to me a few days ago, and I offered my first impression opinion. I don’t know whether is was correct or not, and the more I think about it, the more I’m unsure. In any case, I’m not going to tell you my conclusions. Instead, I want to you to submit yours. So let us know what you think. I’m sure there is something to be learned here.
The case of Molly’s bees
The patient arrived in a package and was hived on April 30, 2019 in Ohio, USA. After six weeks, the patient presented with shot brood, dwindling numbers, very little honey storage, and overall failure to thrive. What’s wrong with this colony?
Facts determined from interviews
The follow background information was derived from emails between the owner and an experienced beekeeper, also in Ohio.
- The owner is a first-year beekeeper.
- The first half of May was rainy with cold nights.
- A boardman feeder was in the entrance until May 19. Afterward, the feed was placed above the brood area.
- The bees were given a patty of pollen substitute.
- The queen’s wings were clipped.
- The owner hasn’t seen the queen since installation.
- The two frames shown contained the only drawn comb in the hive as of May 25.
I also have a set of photos that were taken later, but I will save those for next time. For now, all the information you need is included above and in the two photos below. Have fun.
Honey Bee Suite