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Health

Todays honey bees are under threat from a range of environmental pressures. This includes loss of plant diversity, habitat and threat from pests and diseases. As non-beekeepers we can help bees by encouraging them into our gardens by providing them with the plants they like to feed on and making suitable homes for them to live in.

Beekeepers, if they wish to be successful have to do much more than this. Honey bees have a close knit community lifestyle, where worker bees have well developed systems to look after the hive by cleaning and protecting it. However this eusocial environment can also make honey bees more suseptible to pests and diseases, as many bees in such close proximity can lead to rapid transfer of parasites and disease.

This is because of the increase contact between members of the hive due to the close proximity, and bee to bee/larvae (trophyllaxis) method of feeding increases the mechanisms by which pests and disease can be passed. Moving hives from place to place can also spread pests and disease, as can resistance to current chemical remedial treatments.

Todays beekeeper has to manage their hives in many different ways, in order to control the establishment and spread of pests and diseases that threaten the honey bee. Further information can be found in the pages relating to specific topics.

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Hygiene

With the recent outbreak of European Foul Brood (EFB) in east Scotland the following 10 Rules for Foul Brood Control are worth highlighting and adhering to. 1. Make sure you are familiar with the signs and causes of foul brood and other brood disorders. 2. Inspect your colonies at the very least every spring and …

Varroa

Varroa weakens honey bee colonies decreasing honey production, heavy infestation may even result in absconding. This parasite is found throughout the world, except for Australia and parts of New Zealand. It is endemic in the UK with most hives seeing signs of the parasite sometime in their lifetime. This reddish-brown mite is about the size …

Chalkbrood

Chalkbrood is fairly common in Europe and can cause serious damage to hives if left unchecked. It is caused by a fungus Ascosphaera apis and affects honey bee brood. The fungus can forms spores when reproducing and infection by spores occurs in young larvae of around three days old and enter the body by ingestion …

Foulbrood

American foulbrood (AFB) is a very destructive disease affecting the brood of the temperate and sub-tropical regions of the world. The disease is not confined to the Americas and occurs in all areas where the European Honey bee lives. The disease is contagious and can remain dormant for decades. It is therefore vital to avoid …

Nosema

Nosema is a very destructive disease of all adult bees. Badly affected workers are unable to fly and their life span is shortened. There is a deterioration of the hypopharyngeal glands resulting in reduction of colony strength. In winter or other weather conditions that prevent flying for prolonged periods, the infection accelerates quickly. It can …

Tracheal Mites

The Tracheal mite, infests the tracheal system of adult bees, queens, workers and drones, equally. Since it was first reported in Apis mellifera colonies in Europe in 1921, opinions regarding the extent of the damage it can cause to honey bee colonies have varied. It is a small mite (0.1 m) that lives and breeds …

Insect Pests

Wax Moth (Greater and Lesser) The wax moth lays its eggs inside the hive comb, where the larvae feed on the comb causing significant damage to the comb. In healthy hives, wax moth is not a problem with worker bees removing any intruders effectively. However in hives that are weakened they can establish themselves with …