By Charlotte Hubbard, Michigan Beekeeper

Following a major winter storm, I ventured out to my hives to “shovel their walks” and see if anything was amiss.

Unfortunately, I saw this.

I emailed the helpful beekeepers at Kelley’s, who said it definitely looks like Nosema, and suggested I have some medication ready for feeding when the cluster breaks—if medicating is part of my hive management plan. However, Sean Burgess did emphasize that the only sure way to determine if you have Nosema, and what type it is, is via a microscope. He’s seen what the picture shows, and it never developed into full blown Nosema.

There are things you want to see in the snow around your hives, (like a million dollars or  chocolate), or small brown or yellow spots showing the bees have had a chance to answer nature’s call, indicating that they’re alive. Even seeing an occasional dead bee in the snow is a bit reassuring—you know they’ve been out, and one or two didn’t make it back in.

“Big drips of brown stuff” is not on that “good” list of things to find, although it may not necessarily be bad unless it is Nosema.

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