Nosema Ceranae Testing – Really?

So what do you do after 25 years of marriage on a Friday night out in the country when your kids are all out for the evening having fun?  Watch TV?  Read Magazines?  Play….well we won’t talk about that.  Not when you have honey bees.  You squash bees and look at their guts under a microscope for nosema ceranae.  Just what Michelle and I did last Friday night.  Call us nuts, but we actually had a blast!

OK, I know, we gotta get out more right?  Actually squashing bees guts onto a slide is pretty important for us at Spiral Horn Apiary.  Honey bees can get nasty things in them that really can do harm to their systems – just like people.  We look at their stomach contents for nosema ceranae, and if we find the parasite we take care of them quickly before the bees get sick.  Amazing, just like people.

On this particular night we were looking for nosema ceranae, a single cell parasite that can be devastating to a honey bee colony if it gets out of control.  Nosema ceranae can be controlled if caught early but if left unchecked, can literally wipe out a colony.  The photo to the right is a bee that has nosema ceranae that we detected during our sampling.  We use a method provided by Randy Oliver who hosts the very informative website

It is great when you only find a few bees in the hive sample with nosema ceranae but should be monitored closely.  These organisms are picked up by the bees while they are foraging and then passed amongst the bees back in the colony.  The photo to the left shows how nice pollen looks when ingested by the honeybee.  Notice the lack of nosema ceranae in this sample compared to the one above?  Not hard to tell the difference under a 400x microscope!