Black Queen Cell Virus is a viral honey bee’s disease that mainly infects the queen bee larvae. This deadly disease is caused by Cripavirus genus from the Dicistroviridae virus family. The virus, which can also affect drones and workers, can be detected through polymerase chain reaction. BQVC is usually common during spring and extends to early summer. Interestingly, BQCV causes dead queen larvae to turn a pale yellow color, darken then turn from brown to black. The virus kills queen bee larvae progressively with each development stage.
How it spreads
The Black Queen Virus is mainly transmitted through a microsporidian parasite called Nosema Apis.The lethal virus can remain in dead queen larvae, honey and pollen for about 4 weeks. This can trigger further spreading of the virus particularly when nurse bees feed the brood with infected food. Migrating colonies can also cause transmission of the virus from one beehive to another. BQCV can also be transmitted through beekeeping equipment and water. Unsurprisingly, Varroa infestations are also credited for transmission of this virus. Unfortunately, there are no known vaccinations or medications that can eradicate this virus after infiltrating any beehive.
Symptoms of BQCV
The infested queen larvae may show the following symptoms;
- Dark brown or black wall patches in queen larvae
- Pupae/queen larvae turn light yellow
- Death of queen bee larvae after capping
Prevention of BQCV
There are several ways beekeepers can protect their honey bee colonies from BQCV.These preventive strategies include;
- Proper Nutrition
Beekeepers should prioritize on ensuring that their colonies are well-fed at all times. The key to a stronger and healthier hive lies in feeding your bees with proper nutrition. Colonies which are appropriately fed and maintained tend to be less susceptible to infectious parasites and diseases such as BQCV.
- Hive and other beekeeping equipment hygiene
Sanitization of beehives and other beekeeping equipment can help prevent infectious diseases such as BQCV among other viruses. Beekeepers take solid preventative measures against this deadly virus by using sanitized equipment and maintaining regular hive monitoring protocols.
- Strategic Hive placement
The Black Queen Cell Virus disease is common in spring and early summer. Beekeepers should think of placing their hives in strategic locations during colder and warm seasons to prevent the spread of BQCV.Hives should be placed in sunlight infiltrated areas during colder months.
Other BQCV preventative measures include; regular rotation of combs, promoting BQCV symptoms awareness and use of antibiotics such as oxytetracycline hydrochloride and fumagillin among others.