The proportion of honey-bees infected with Nosema apis (Zander) declines in summer as the old infected bees die, for they cease to transmit their infection to the newly emerged individuals during the flying season. N. apis spores survive the summer on combs contaminated with infected faeces during the preceding winter. Although bees clean the combs during the summer, all infected material is not removed, and even well-used brood comb, which has been repeatedly cleaned by bees, can carry infection. Only a few bees may contract infection in the autumn from these faeces, but they join the winter cluster and initiate the next outbreak of the disease. Transferring a colony on to clean comb early in the spring or summer removes the source of the disease, and it then disappears when all the old infected bees die.

Old broodless comb can be sterilized quite simply by fumigation for a few days with the vapours of formalin or glacial acetic acid. Acetic acid is preferable, because it does not poison any honey or pollen in the combs. Formaldehyde can safely be used only with empty combs.

The autumn is the best time for treating colonies chemotherapeutically, because the combs are then cleanest and the few bees which are infected can be cured during the winter. The drug can be incorporated in the syrup normally fed to colonies in autumn, and there is no risk of seriously contaminating subsequent honey crops. However, such treatment cannot eliminate the disease because sufficient spores remain on the combs for the disease to start again when the drug supplied in the winter stores is exhausted.