Varroa jacobsoni and Varroa destructor are two species of parasitic mites that commonly attack bees. They survive on the bodily fluids secreted by the bees. If you see brown or red spots on the thorax of your bees, then they have been infected by these mites. These mites also act as carriers for viruses which make them even more dangerous to the bees. They are particularly lethal when the hive is already weakened by a preceding disease or weather condition. If the hive is weak enough, they can destroy it in a single attack. These mites tend to attack drones more than worker bees or the queen bee. Once bees realize that there are mites close by, they leave the hive in a swarm.
There are a number of treatments that you can employ to get rid of these mites. The treatments are usually classified into mechanical and chemical treatments. The mechanical treatments include the disruption of the lifecycle of the mite. Such methods do not necessarily lead to the eradication of these mites. They are usually used to keep the mite’s population under control. Some examples of mechanical methods are brood interruption, powdered sugar dusting, and drone brood sacrifice. Unlike mechanical methods, chemical methods aim to completely destroy the mite population. There are two types of chemical treatments commonly used. Once is the hard chemical treatment which includes Amitraz (Apivar is the market name) and Coumaphos (Market name is CheckMite). The other type is the soft chemical. These include oxalic acid, thymol (Market names include Apiguard and ApiLife-Var) and formic acid. Before you use these chemicals make sure that you check the regulations in your area for these chemicals. Also, make sure that you do not sell the honey produced during the time you treat the hives with chemicals since the honey might contain high amounts of these chemicals.
Small hive beetles
Aethina tumida are small beetles that are found in hives. These beetles originated in Africa and made their way into North America. The pupae live buried in the ground surrounding hives. Once the pupae mature and develop, they migrate into the hives. Beekeepers often use ant eradication chemicals to keep these beetles out of the hives. Diatomaceous earth is one other possibility that can be tried. The diatoms in diatomaceous earth get stuck onto the beetles’ skin. This causes them dehydrate and eventually die. Several pesticides are also commonly used to get rid of these beetles. Honey combat Roach Gel is the market name of Fipronil, which is commonly used to drive away these beetles by applying it to the corrugations. Corrugations trap the beetles but do not the bees. Hence, the bees do not come in contact with the pesticide. Hence, it is one of the safest chemical methods to get rid of beetles.
Another organism that can make honey bees quite ill and threaten the colony is Nosema apis. Also known as nosemosis, this parasite invades the intestinal tracts of adult bees. It becomes a particular problem in winter or other times when the bees are unable to leave the hive and eliminate waste away from where they are living.
There are multiple ways to treat and prevent nosema disease. It can be treated by increased ventilation and antibiotics. It can be prevented by careful management, especially by removing as much honey as possible before winter begins. In the interim, you can feed the bees on sugar water. While some in the apicultural community will criticize this practice because of the nutritional properties of refined sugar, it can prevent this dangerous disease.
One potential risk factor for nosemosis is exposure to corn pollen containing certain genes. Research could not confirm this, but seemed to suggest that it is slightly more likely that bees will develop Nosema apis after exposure.
These moths do not attack the honey bees but eat the wax that protects the honey comb. They need a protein in used brood honey comb to develop fully. The destroyed honey comb can lead to contamination of honey and even kill larvae.
The good news for beekeepers living in colder climates, like North America, is that wax moths cannot survive in cold weather. Additionally, bees can take care of wax moths themselves and will kill and control the population.
Cripaviradae-Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus
This virus has two forms, only named “Syndrome 1” and “Syndrome 2”.
The first, Syndrome 1, includes tremors in the wings and body. The wings are spread, dislocated, and do not allow flight. The honey sac of these bees is distended, which gives them a bloated abdomen. They can crawl up plant stems, and often huddle together.
Bees suffering from the second form, Syndrome 2, can fly initially, but are hairless. Their appearance
changes as they become dark and smaller. Their abdomen becomes broader. The other bees in the colony turned on the affected, attacking them and even trying to stop them at the entrance to the hive. Before long, the tremors begin as in Syndrome 1. After this, they lose the ability to fly and perish.
There are some viruses related to cripaviradae, known as dicistroviridae. They include the following: acute bee paralysis virus, Israeli acute paralysis virus, Kashmir bee virus, and black queen virus.
Many of this type of virus are related to colony collapse disorder.
Colony Collapse Disorder
Colony collapse disorder happens when a colony is left without most of the worker bees. The queen remains, as do nurse bees to take care of the larval bees. There is usually enough honey, but this leads to the loss of a hive.
The frequency of this phenomenon has increased greatly in recent years, the causes for which are hotly debated. Some possible causes include mite infections, genetics, malnutrition, lack of immunity, and one type of pesticide.
Some signs that you might see in your hive will include unhatched but abandoned brood, food stores that are generally left alone, a young workforce, a smaller than normal workforce, and bees’ reluctance to take in supplementary nutrition. You will not find dead bees or any of the common mites that can kill or harm bees. The bees have disappeared.
There are some ways that the Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium recommend to manage this disorder. One of these is to keep strong colonies away from weaker ones. Another is to replace sugar syrup or other supplements to their food with Fumagilin.
This is a relatively new condition to be discovered and named. An experienced, professional beekeeper brought it to the world’s attention in 200. Since then, scientists have worked tirelessly to solve this mystery.
Colony collapse disorder has been documented in thirty five states. In each of these states, beekeepers and scientists took samples of the pollen, wax, honey, combs, and whatever bees they could find. The bees that they were able to perform autopsies on revealed several pathogens and other problems. This led to the theory that there is an immune system issue developing among honey bees. The bodies of bees are in short supply, however, because, as previously discussed, colony collapse disorder does not leave behind a lot of dead bees. Instead, they have disappeared. They could be abandoning their hives, sensing the likelihood of becoming infected and being unable to fight it.
This is perhaps the direst problem faced by both honey bees and beekeepers. It is a manifestation of one of the most serious threats to our species’ well-being and survival.
While many beekeepers have found that splitting a hive can fill any gaps created by colony collapse disorder, the United States of America has still needed to import bees from other countries in order to keep up with the pollination demands that we have.
There are two common types of foulbrood that affect bees. One of them is the European foulbrood. The causative organism of European foulbrood is the bacteria, Melissococcus plutonius. This infects the midgut of bee larvae. The bacterial cells can survive for at least a few months on just beeswax. Symptoms of this particular disease type are brown or yellow colored larvae that are usually dead. This disease is often considered as a stress disease because it is usually lethal only when the hive is already under some kind of stress. The other type of foulbrood is the American foulbrood. This is much more deadly and infectious when compared to the European foulbrood. It is the most destructive bee disease. It is caused by Paenibacillus larvae. It can affect larvae that are as young as twenty four hours. The spores of this microorganism grow in the gut by draining all the nutrients from the larvae. Hence, the larvae invariably die in their sealed cells because the microorganism is taking away all the nutrients. The bacteria die once the larvae die because its food source is dead. However, before it dies it produces millions of spores that are extremely durable. These spores can survive for decades till they find the right conditions to grow and develop. They are sometimes even found on beekeeping equipment. Even though it only infects larvae, it can cause the death of an entire colony just by killing all the larvae.
Ocytetracycline is a chemical that is often used to kill these bacteria. However, you have to remember not to use the honey produced during the treatment period because it will contain varying levels of chemical residue that could be harmful to us. Shook Swarm is another method that is being considered as a replacement for the chemical method. Prophylactic methods of treatment should be avoided since they could lead to the bacteria becoming resistant to the treatment.
Aspergillus fumigates, Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus Niger are the three fungi that cause the disease known as Stonebrood. This disease causes a change in composition of the brood that makes them appear mummified. Each of these three fungi has spores that are different in shape. These fungi can also affect animals and humans leading to a number of respiratory disorders. When these spores attack the larvae, they manage to enter the bee larvae. They tend travel to the gut where they hatch and grow rapidly. This leads to the formation of a ring like band near the head of the larvae. Once the larvae die, they turn black and become hard, making it difficult to crush them; hence the name Stonebrood. The spores then take over the body of the dead larvae and form a layer over it. If the worker bees manage to clean out the dead larvae then there is a possibility that the hive will not become completely infected by the fungi. Otherwise, it may completely wipe out the entire bee population in the hive.
Iflaviridae or deformed wing virus
This disease, caused by a virus Iflaviridae, is known to cause wing deformities amongst other deformities. It is usually transmitted into the bee through the parasitic mite, Varroa destructor. The deformities are taken in when the parasite infects the pupae in a hive. If the parasite happens to infect an adult bee, they rarely develop any symptoms of the disease. On some occasions, they might show a change in behavior. Deformed bees are usually those that are infected when they were in the pupae stage. Deformed bees are normally chased out of the hive and left to die. If the number of deformed bees in a hive is large, then there is a chance for the colony to die out.
These are just some of the common diseases that infect bees. In order for you to take precautions against these diseases, as well as others, it would better if you read up on various bee diseases before embarking on beekeeping. Besides the diseases caused by various other micro or macro organisms, bees are also highly susceptible to pesticides. Hence, make sure that you do not raise your bees anywhere near areas that are filled with pesticides. Just make sure that they do not get exposed to any sort of pesticides or other stray chemicals used by your neighbors or in the vicinity of your land.