Bee Pest and Disease

Bees are affected by a wide range of pests and diseases. Keeping bees in man-made hives makes bees more susceptible, and it is important for bee keepers to regularly monitor their hives, as well as taking steps to keep their bees as healthy as possible at all times. Poorly kept hives and weak colonies are much more likely to be affected by outbreaks of pests or diseases.

American Foul Brood (AFB): AFB is caused by bacteria. If AFB is detected, affected hives need to be destroyed to stop the spread to your other hives and beyond. AFB is considered to be a serious threat to the Australian beekeeping industry. In NSW, it is a legal requirement for bee keepers, both commercial and amateur, to notify the relevant regulatory body

European Foul Brood (EFB): EFB is caused by bacteria, similar to AFB. EFB is more treatable than AFB, and can be managed with antibiotics if affected hives can be quarantined. Nonetheless, destruction of affected hives is recommended. The spores can live for a hundred years and is very hard to kill.

Nosema Apis is a fungi that can infect the comb and wax and is transfered throughout the hive by the bees. Hives can be recovered if old wax is removed and boxes steam treated and repainted. The bees can be transferred to a clean box during the warm season. This may overcome the infection.

Chalk Brood & Stone Brood are fungal infections that affect the the brood by creating a web-like mycelium that takes over the brood in the cell. It can be detected upon inspection of the hive. Brood cells which previously held larvae appear solid, filled with a white, chalky substance. It affects the hive when it is young or under stress. It can be managed by transferring the bees into a new box with new frames. Destruction of the frames that are affected should be done to stop the spread of spores.

Good hive management is the best way to protect your hives (as well as your local honey industry) against pests and diseases. This requires regular inspection and knowledge of visual identifiation techniques and treatment methods.

To find out more, go to your local Department of Primary Industries web site.