This is by no means a definitive list, but a good starting point to understand all the issues affecting honeybees and I thought humans had it bad.
American Foulbrood (AFB) – one of these most highly infectious bee diseases with no known cure. The brood is infected and die in the larvae and pupae stage, if not intercepted other hives in the vicinity will also become infected and die. In some states/countries this disease MUST be reported, all bees MUST be destroyed and hive equipment burnt, treated or irradiated. Spores remain viable for decades. Honey is unaffected for human consumption though not recommended as this may assist in spreading the disease.
Perforated cells of AFB and the Ropiness test for AFB
European Foulbrood (EFB) – Whilst not as serious as AFB, this disease affects the larva, pupa and young adult bees. The bacteria lives in the bee gut and essentially starves the bee of nutrients. Beekeeper hygiene is essential to keep the disease isolated, an ailing queen should be replaced with a young vigorous queen with hygienic traits where possible. Antibiotics have been effective in treating EFB, avoiding stress to the hive via migrating/moving, opening the hive excessively and replacing old brood comb has been shown to be an effective control.
Dead larvae in their cells going from yellow to black and the Larva killed by EFB
Sacbrood – Caused by a virus and not considered to be major problem, infection occurs within a couple of days of the larva stage. The larva dies and the infection is spread by the nurse bees cleaning out the cells. requeening with a young, prolific queen with good hygienic behaviour is recommended. Good strong colonies of bees are able to keep the disease under control reasonably well.
Sack with fluid surrounding larva and Upturned dead bee larvae in their cells
Chalkbrood & Stonebrood – Caused by a fungus, is highly infectious with the spores remaining viable for up to 15 years. Chalkbrood can be easily diagnosed from the mummified bee larva outside the entrance to the hive. Treatments vary however this is a sign of weakened or stressed hive, ensure your hive is well ventilated, located in full sun and if this condition does not improve then introduce a new queen with hygienic traits.
Chalkbrood mummies at the entrance to the hive and Chalkbrood dead larvae in their cells on the brood comb
Nosema – a spore forming fungal parasite of adult honeybees which can cause large bee losses in autumn or spring. Infection occurs in the stomach and is passed from bee to bee via the cleaning of infected comb. Treatment in Australia is not available only prevention. Good forage with various pollen types and a good store of honey have been shown to assist a weakened colony, as well as positioning the hive in a sunny well protected spot during the cooler months.
Dysentery caused by nosema down the front of the hive
Other viruses to be aware but not so serious are:
Chronic paralysis – bees have deformed wings and cannot fly, thought to be a genetic disease and resolved by requeening
- Kashmir bee virus- originated from the Asian honeybee and is similar
to EFB and Sacbrood
- Black queen cell virus – thought to be related to nosema, the queen
dies in her cell
- Cloudy wing virus – bee wings become opaque and the bees have shorter
- Amoeba disease – parasite resulting from a nosema infection on adult
- Flagellates – an infection of the posteria intestine in adult bees
during the cooler months
- Septicaemia – bacterial disease of the bees blood causing weakness,
loss of balance and death
Pests of the bee
This differs from country to country
Varroa – external parasitic mite that feeds on the bees blood that spreads disease. It targets adult bees and larva. There are two known types of varroa, destructor and jacobsonii. Destructor requires apis mellifera as the host. Jacobsonii will feed and breed on both mellifera (european honeybee) and cerana (asian honeybee) this parasite does not occur in Australia. There is no treatment advised here as they vary from country to country and are evolving as the mite adapts. A real nasty SOB.
Wax Moth – causes serious damage to the cells, moth larvae burrow through cell walls leaving silk trails as they go. It is also an indicator that the colony is not well. The moth will also damage stored comb, recommended comb is frozen for several days to kill any larva then sealed and stored.
Small Hive beetle (SHB) – can destroy a healthy hive in a week though they prefer the weaker colonies to infest. The beetle larva burrow through comb eating honey, pollen, brood and sliming it as they go. There are a number of chemical treatments and traps on the market to keep beetles under control.
Tracheal mites – internal parasite that lives and breeds within the bees breathing tubes feeding on the blood and weakening the bee. Treatment is using Menthol crystals within the hive which evaporate and kill the mites, this parasite does not occur in Australia.
Tropilaelaps mite - these parasitic mites eminate from the giant honey bees of Asia and are present on honeybees in Papua New Guinea, however they are not known to be in Australia. These mites are smaller than varroa being 1mm in length. Similar to varroa they reproduce inside sealed brood cells and emerge with the adult bee, the parasitised bee may be stunted, have deformed wings and shrunken abdomens. Heavily infested colonies may abscond.
Braula Fly (Braula Coeca) - commonly known as bee louse and is a reddish brown wingless fly 0.75mm long and can be seen with the naked eye. It is a scavenger often clinging to the hair of the honeybee and feeding on honey and pollen being fed to the queen, workers or drones. They are not considered to be a serious threat to the colony unless, though large infestations can hinder egg and brood production. Braula is not on the mainland of Australia, however they do exist in Tasmania and as such strict controls are in place moving bees and / or equipment from Tasmania.
Other parasitic pests
Other pests includes:
Happy to revise if I have left anything out.
Video links => 5 video's about diseases and pests