What is Fumagilin and How to Use It?

September 14, 2022

What is Fumagilin and How to Use It?

One of the most common questions we get asked is: What is Fumagilin? Why should I use it? What is it used to treat? So let's delve into this topic and provide some more insight as to how this can help your bees and the best way to use it.

What does Fumagilin treat?

Fumagilin is used to treat a very serious disease found in adult honey bees called nosema. This disease has contributed to loss of colonies in both autumn and spring. Nosema is a fungal infection of the bee's intestines.

When an adult bee swallows a nosema spore it germinates within 30 minutes inside its stomach. The spore then continues to grow and multiply within the bee's body. After 6 to 10 days there is a large amount of spores that has been produced. This disease will make the bees relieve themselves inside the hive, as opposed to waiting until their cleansing flight. Nosema then further spreads to other bees when they ingest the spores when they are cleaning infected areas. Often these spores can enter your colony during the summer, having little to no effect. Once the weather begins to change in the fall, spores may initiate an outbreak. This can cause premature death in overwintered bees, making it hard for the colony to make it to spring.

In order to try and prevent Nosema problems, some beekeepers regularly feed antifungal medication like Fumagilin in gallons of heavy syrup during the fall and/or spring. This proactive approach, as well as some good practices of keeping your colonies in sunny locations during the winter, have shown to be successful in controlling the Nosema issue.

What is Fumagilin?

Based on a natural extract from a fungus, it is highly specified to prevent and treat Nosema infestation. For more information on Fumagilin please go here.

How to use Fumagilin?

Fumagilin should be dissolved in water at room temperature. Once dissolved add it to your syrup and mix well. For more information on how please see the video here. We also suggest following the directions that come with the treatment as it will provide the exact amount to use per colony.

Avoid sunlight when preparing the mixture as it will kill the active ingredient needed to combat the disease. It should be fed directly to your bees. What that means is that you don’t want to feed it too early when the bees may store it away. Fumagiling will lose its active ingredient after 24hrs, rendering it useless. You want the bees to consume it immediately so that it terminates the spores right away. The perfect moment to feed the bees fumagillin mixture is when most of the bees have hatched and most of the comb is now filled up with honey. This way you know that there is a higher likelihood that the bees will eat the syrup. However you don’t want to feed the bees too late as they might not take the mixture or it might be too cold.

Using this fairly inexpensive treatment can prevent your bees from suffering during the winter, and prevent the possibility of losing a colony.

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