The Bee LouseThe bee louse is a parasite known under the scientific name of Braula Coeca. It is a kleptoparasite that belongs to the family of Braulidae. It can be found on the thorax of adult worker bees, drones and queen bees. The adult bee louse can be red or brown and it feeds with the food found in the bees' goiter. This insect has six legs and it cannot fly. Its color, form and size might trick beginner beekeepers and make them believe that their hives are infested with varroa. However, a closer and more attentive look will reveal the differences between the mite and the louse. The Braula has the aspect of a spider while the Varroa Mite looks very simiar to a crab. Due to their feeding they cause a pressure over the bee's goiter and make it regurgitate its food.
The bee louse spends the winter inside the hive. In early spring the female lays eggs on the interior side of the cell caps. The eggs hatch and out of them come larvae that feed on wax and pollen. These larvae turn into pupae and then into adult bee lice.
SymptomsThe honey bees infested by bee lice are restless and nervous. They have a reduced working capacity and the vigor of the colony diminishes little by little. The bee louse can be see without a microscope or a magnifying glass upon the bees' and the queen's body.
TreatmentThe majority of beekeepers control mechanically the bee louse through honey harvesting. Since the louse larvae live in capped honeycomb cells they are killed during the uncapping process. The adult bee lice can be killed with tobacco. This has to be put in the smoker and then spread over the combs. However, this treatment should not be applied for too long, since it has been proved that adult honey bees might die because of tobacco. Camphor and naphthalene can also be used for treating hives against bee live. It is advisable to apply the treatment in the months of September and October when the bee families have little or no brood and when the parasites cease their mating process. The treatment can be repeated several times during a time span of twenty one days.
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