Notes from Dewey – June 2023

by Dewey M. Caron, Communications and Content Specialist for the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program

OSU Video on AFB

American foulbrood (AFB) thankfully is uncommon, but it still remains one of the diseases beekeepers need to be vigilant about.  Check out the video Carolyn Breece developed on AFB signs and symptoms. This video clearly shows the signs to look for in an active AFB disease situation and how to look for and recognize AFB scale in cells of comb frames that might be removed from storage and used in an active colony.  If you suspect AFB, it is important to get a confirmation. Many local associations have task forces trained to help confirm a suspected AFB diseased colony, or the Bee Lab at OSU. View the AFB video here

Watching bees Washboarding

Janet Landon of Salem sent a photo to the Oregon Beekeeping group asking about bees on the outside of her hive during one of the June hot spells. The bees of her colony appeared to be evenly spaced almost in rows on the front of her hive. Could the bees have been washboarding? Have you ever witnessed this strange, uncommon occurrence? Washboarding  bees can be observed in constant motion seeming to take one step forward then one step backwards. Their proboscis is extended contacting the hive surface. And this may go on for some time, even over more than a single afternoon.

We DO NOT UNDERSTAND what washboarding is – it is not apparently harmful. A number of practical explanations (hive cleaning, communication) and also some fanciful possibilities (unemployed forager lines, cleaning pollen grains from body hairs) have been proposed for why bees washboard.  A February posting from Patrice Lewis at Backyard Beekeeping discusses washboarding  To view this behavior check out