Common Bee Diseases

Varroa Mites

These parasites attack both adult and larvae bees. They suck the blood of honeybees, weakening them and shortening their lifespan. If your bees display signs such as missing legs or wings, it is possible you that have varroa mites. The mites seem to prefer drone brood, so inspection will help to prevent them. Apistan seems to work best on them, although disinfecting medicines should not be used during honey flow or if honey will be shortly harvested for human consumption.


American Foulbrood is caused by Bacillus larvae that kill sealed broods of honeybees. European Foulbrood is slightly less disastrous but will still deform and kill larvae. To prevent foulbrood, spray a disinfecting medicine in the spring and fall. Terramycin is commonly used, although any disinfecting medicine should not be used during honey flow or if you plan on eating the honey in the hive at a future date. If it is too late for prevention, you will need to destroy the colony and possibly the hive.


It is undeterminable what causes colony collapse disorder (CCD), although researchers have suggested that it is the presence of both the fungus Nosema ceranae and the virus invertebrate iridescent virus (IIV) in the hive. Currently, there is no solution to this problem other than burning the hive once the colony has been infected.

Wintering Your Bees

You can wrap your hives up for the winter, although sometimes this is not recommended, as wrapping could literally trap the bees. Help your bees defend their entrances from mice and other creatures that may be looking for a winter home. Entrance reducers are available to buy, although as long as the opening is about 3/8 of an inch high and 3 to 4 inches long, you should be able to keep everything out. This will also help them in the spring, as stronger colonies may try to steal from weaker ones.

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