Prophylactics during bad weather condition

  Some basic facts related to this topic:

The survival of the bees depends on the successful defense against microbial invaders, parasites and predators.
The honey bee immune system, like other species of holometabolous insects, depends on two main categories of defense reactions: the cell-mediated responses such as phagocytosis and encapsulation of foreign objects and sell-free defense mechanisms represented by the antimicrobial immune proteins...

"The grippal diseases occur regularly during seasons of inclement weather; the first cases usually appear with onset of winter. Frequently large epidemics develop in the wake of some change of weather. These epidemics... may persist for many months." (From: Text-book of pediatrics By Julius Parker Sedgwick, p.700)...

"Comparing the genomes of the honey bee and other species separated over evolutionary time from humans have provided us with powerful insights into the complex biological processes that have evolved over hundreds of millions of years," said NHGRI Director Dr. Francis S. Collins. "The genome of the honey bee has been added to a growing list of organisms whose sequence can be compared side by side to better understand the structure and functions of our own genes. And that will help speed our understanding of how genes contribute to health and what goes wrong in illness."(From: Baylor College of Medicine)
I think that reverse approach is also logical.

Doctors say - prevention is better than cure. Therefore, when bad weather season starts I use freshly-grated onion to boost the immune system of my bees as a prophylactic approach. For this purpose I created two technics (techniques): "direct" and "indirect" immunization of my bees. I do not use any artificial boosters...

Definition of Immunization: "Immunization: Vaccination. Immunizations work by stimulating the immune system, the natural disease-fighting system of the body. The healthy immune system is able to recognize invading bacteria and viruses and produce substances (antibodies) to destroy or disable them. Immunizations prepare the immune system to ward off a disease. To immunize against viral diseases, the virus used in the vaccine has been weakened or killed. To immunize against bacterial diseases, it is generally possible to use only a small portion of the dead bacteria to stimulate the formation of antibodies against the whole bacteria. In addition to the initial immunization process, it has been found that the effectiveness of immunizations can be improved by periodic repeat injections or "boosters." " (From:

Onion is one of nature's best natural immunity enhancers that protects against different kinds of infections. It is also a powerful antibiotic and antiseptic.
Also, onion is a natural prebiotics: "Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that when consumed, stimulate the growth and function of certain "good" bacteria in the gut (probiotics). These foods (prebiotics) contain non-digestible sugars such as lactulose and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS).By acting as a food source for "good" bacteria, prebiotics selectively promote the growth of "good" bacteria thereby increasing their population in the intestine. Common food sources of prebiotics include: onions, garlic, banana and asparagus. Prebiotics encourage the friendly bacteria to flourish, helping to support our natural defences." (From: British Onions)

"Various extractives of onion were tested for their inhibitory activity towards the growth of the aflatoxin-producing fungi, Aspergillus flavas and A. parasiticus. Ether extract and lachrymatory factor (LF), which has been earlier identified as thiopropanal-s-oxide, were found to have potent antifungal activity. Steam-distilled onion oil, which is devoid of LF, was not as potent as ether extract and LF. Its major component, dipropyldisulfide was ineffective as a fungal inhibitor. Ethyl acetate extract containing phenolics was also ineffective. Exposure of onions to gamma-irradiation at a sprout-inhibiting dose (6 krad) did not alter the inhibitory potency of the onion extractives which, however, appeared to be heat-labile." (From: INHIBITION OF AFLATOXIN-PRODUCING FUNGI BY ONION EXTRACTS, ARUN SHARMA , G. M. TEWARI , A. J. SHRIKHANDE , S. R. PADWAL-DESAI C. BANDYOPADHYAY All authors are with the Biochemistry and Food Technology Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Bombay-400 085, India. )

Phytoncides of onion and garlic are capable to kill various microbes on considerable distance for a long time(up to 270 hours).

Is it possible to immunize bees?
"Among the insects reported to have been successfully immunized with bacteria..." (From: Insect Immunity By J. P. N. Pathak, p.70)...

"In the private sector, companies are working to create new products that can help bees in various ways. A company called Beelogics has invented an "immunization" for bees to protect them from one of the viruses (Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus) that was present in many samples of CCD."(From:

Is there any immunization technic for the bees?
... Vaccines are made from attenuated or killed pathogenic microorganisms. By introduction of vaccines into bees and larvae antibodies could be created and phagocytosis would be increased. Therefore specific acquired immunity can be created. Among the others, oral introduction of vaccines with food, like sugar syrup is the easiest way to immunize bees ...

"...Three families of each group of bees were given for 2 h the honey syrup added with 0.05% BTB (bitoxybacilin) from Bacillus thuringiesis. One week after this, the honey syrup with double concentration of BTB (0.1%) was given to 24 h to the bees..." (From: Intraspecies Differences of Humoral Protective Response in the HoneyBee Apis Mellifera)

Colony immunization in details

If your colony is strong and the number of dead bees is minimal, you can apply just the prophylactics approach. For this purpose, you should mix freshly-grated onion with sugar syrup (one tablespoon of onion to one quart of syrup for a medium size colony) and feed the syrup mix as you would normally do. For example, you can use the Division Board Feeder .
However, if you discover that your colonies are weakened or may succumb to disease, you should consider immunization. To conduct this procedure, you should add attenuated or dead pathogenic microorganisms into the syrup. These microorganisms can be obtained by adding dead bees into a separate container with freshly-grated onion, thus killing the pathogens inside their bodies. Once the mixture is prepared, feed it to your colonies as described above. Please remember that you should conduct immunization ONLY under the supervision of your local bee inspector.

Boris Romanov,   December 25, 2008
Last Modified: February 10, 2009


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