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.