DIY, Hygienic Testing Plunger 2.0 – By Ernie Daley

A couple of other attempts failed spectacularly, but the mistakes made along the way got me to this simple and straightforward version.  We can add it to the Bee Club Equipment and anyone can check it out and use it, or for the handy in the crowd, you could make your own. Either way Hygienic Testing is coming soon to an apiary near you !

Here is the updated Cell Plunger, “The 189”.  Now available for Beta testing if anyone is interested.  Easy to line up and easy to use, we hope.

Hygienic Testing 101 –

  1. Count the open cells (if any) in the area of the brood frame you have selected for testing. Ideally, there should be no more than 10-12 empty cells.  Make a note of the number and subtract it from 189.  This will be your starting number.
  2. Line up and center the horizontal rows of pins over the cells in the selected area, plunge to puncture the cells and kill pupae. Check cells in the selected area and puncture any missed individually if necessary.
  3. The killed brood section frame is then placed in the center of the brood nest. Two days (48 hours) later the frame is removed and the number of sealed cells remaining is recorded. A hygienic colony will have uncapped and removed over 90-95% of the pin killed brood within 48 hours. A non-hygienic colony will take over six days to completely remove the dead brood. The speed with which a colony removed dead brood is correlated with its ability to remove diseased and parasitized brood.
  4. It is very important that colonies be considered hygienic only if they remove >95% of the brood on two consecutive tests.
  5. The test is also helpful in making a choice between two colonies for splits i.e. selecting for the higher percentage

(whatever it turns out to be) and continue on with that one to see if you can achieve an overall apiary improvement over time.  Always selecting for the more hygienic ones to make increases. Modest and incremental steps individual beekeepers can make along the way.

Note: The Pins should be dipped in Isopropyl alcohol and air spun dried between hives.

This work in progress continues and any new insights, feedback and observations are welcome.  

Please share your testing results with the Club and subsequent Apiary improvement.  Remember to keep accurate records of testing dates and cell numbers per hive as well as overall Apiary Numbers. Better Bees are on the way !

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