Beekeeping Basics: Common Bee Diseases
A beekeeper, whether a hobbyist or a commercial keeper, would normally spend an average of 40
hours every season on one colony. It is not just harvesting honey, it involves inspecting, assemble and interact
with the bees. You would have to allot time to check your bees health. Beekeepers usually keep a log about the
things that they have observed regarding the bees' activity.
Bee diseases could be group into brood diseases, adult diseases, management and pests. What exactly are these
* Brood Diseases
Stressed colonies could result in unhygienic procedures which could end up in diseases and infections. This
could be referred to as brood diseases. An example would be the sacbrood disease which is viral and commonly
happens during May to early summer. This disease prevents larvae from pupating. Larvae that died can affect the
adult bees and can be passed when adult bees provides food to the other larvae.
There is a need to sterilize combs with acetic acid, if they are affected by chalk brood disease. It can be
caused by the fungus Ascophaera apis or genetic. Larvae dies when this fungus is ingested with food.
Another serious blood disease is the American foul blood. Caused by the bacteria Paenibacillus larvae larvae,
the AFB could cause serious damage. The dead larvae is very difficult to remove and can be very slimy. When
affected with this kind of disease, there can be a point when the bees and the combs are needed to be burned.
Meanwhile, the European foul brood is caused by Melissococcus plutonius. With the EFB, the larvae is starved since
the bacteria feeds on the larvae food. The larvae will them die. In mild infection, antibiotics may be recommended
to be used.
* Adult diseases
The nosema disease attacks the adult bees. They build wastes in their guts and may cause death. The combs are
sterilized with acetic acid, while Fumifil B is an antibiotic which could help in addressing the bees. Amoeba is
another digestive problem among bees. With amoeba, there is not specific symptoms but the spores need to be
destroyed by acetic acid .
There are times when adult diseases do not wipe out and kill a colony. They can weaken it, making and allowing
viral infections to take over.
These kind of diseases are actually not diseases but conditions that could be a result of poor handling of the
bees. An example would be dysentery, chilled brood or poisoning. Starvation and death among bees because of it, is
another mismanagement problem.
Aside from disease, beekeepers should be prepared to ward off some pests like the greater wax moth. This moth
eats the brood cappings and could result into larvae that are not normally developed, they could be crippled or
missing a leg or a wing. Beekeepers should always be prepared for robbing bees, rodents and other pests that may
attack the hives.
These disease are always better prevented that cure. There things that could be done to avoid these diseases,
like adopting hygienic practices. It means you do not discard a comb or a propolis in the apiary. Never feed honey
from unknown or foreign origin. If you think that you bees are behaving strangely, then consult a Bee Diseases
officer or somebody who is experienced in this kind of field.