Parasites and Diseases of Honeybees

Parasitic Phorid Fly (Apocephalus borealis)

  • A study shows, in one region of the country, a parasite that can replicate one of the symptoms of colony collapse. Previously known to only parasitize bumble bees, A. borealis, also infects and eventually kills honey bees — by leading them to abandon their hives at night.

  • Science Codex

Honey Bee Tracheal Mite (Acarapis woodi)

  • This internal parasitic mite lives within the trachea, inside the thorax, of adult honey bees. They may also be found in air sacs in the thorax, abdomen and head. They pierce the breathing tube walls with their mouth parts and feed on the hemolymph, or blood, of the bees.

  • Menthol, in the U.S., is the registered control of this mite in over-wintering honey bee colonies.

  • U.of Fla.

Honey Bee Varroa Mite (Varroa destructor)(originally mistakenly identified as Varroa jacobsoni which is an inconsequential threat)

  • The Varroa mite is probably the most serious malady of honey bees and it occurs nearly worldwide.

  • This external parasite feeds on the hemolymph (blood) of adult bees, larvae and pupae.

  • Treated with Apistan® or Checkmite+® and also Grease patty treatments are made from a mixture of 1 part vegetable shortening (i.e. Crisco) and 2 parts granulated white sugar.

  • Wikipedia article.

Parasitic Mite (Tropilaelaps clareae) (not yet in U.S.)

  • Parasites of the honey bee brood. Feeding on bee larvae and pupae

Bee Louse (Braula coeca)

  • Actually a wingless fly. These do little harm to the bees, but the larvae disfigure comb by burrowing through cappings. They are not parasitic, however, they may steal food from the worker bees.

  • M.A.A. Research

Wax Moths (Galleria melonella) and (Achroia grisella)

  • Cause considerable damage to beeswax combs left unattended by bees.

  • PDB crystals used to protect stored equipment


Small Hive Beetle (Athina tumida)

  • Both larvae and adults feed on brood, pollen, wax, and honey, and damage both the brood and honeycomb. Honey and pollen often contaminated by beetle feces.

  • In hive Treat with Checkmite+®. 40% permethrin applied to the soil around hives has also been used to treat for the small hive beetle.

  • M.A.A. Research PDF file


No vaccines or medications are available for any honey bee viruses.

Chronic bee paralysis virus (CPV) and acute bee paralysis virus (APV)

  • Symptoms include abnormal trembling of the wings and body and an inability to fly. The abdomen of afflicted bees will be bloated and wings will be partially spread or dislocated. Bees appear shiny and greasy.

  • Globalnet


  • Caused by the spore-forming protozoan, Nosema apis.

  • Spores are ingested with food or water by the adult bees and germinate and multiply within the lining of the bee's midgut. Spores are then shed into the digestive tract and are eliminated in the feces.

  • Fumidil® B

  • Mid-Atlantic Apiculture

"Parasitic Mite Syndrome" or PMS

  • Diseased bee larvae have symptoms resembling a cross between foulbrood and sacbrood. Larvae are found to be infected with one or more viruses and disease appears to be limited to colonies infested with the Varroa mite.

  • Treat for mites

  • WVU



  • Caused by the spore-forming fungus, Ascophaera apis.

  • Spores of the fungus are ingested with the larval food and the spores germinate in the hind gut of the bee larva. When larvae are about a week old the mycelia break through the gut wall and invade the larval tissues until the entire larva is overcome in its cell.

  • No treatment available.

European Foulbrood (EFB)

  • Caused by the bacterium Melissococcus pluton

  • Terramycin® antibotic

  • British Columbia

American foulbrood (AFB)

  • Caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus larvae.

  • Terramycin® antibotic

  • M.A.A. Research

Enemies and Irritants


  • Do not attack the bees themselves. May steal honey and losses can be significant.


  • Mouse urine on combs and frames.



In providing links we chose a variety of sources in order to give a broader field of information.

Periodically recommended treatments change. Contact your state apiary inspector (Department of Agriculture) who should be able to supply more timely information.

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