Parasites and Pests of the Honeybee



Varroa Mite (Varroa destructor, Varroa jacobsoni): Since their arrival in the United States in the 1980s, varroa mites have been probably the most damaging parasite to honeybees.

Tracheal Mite (Acarapis woodi): While this mite is generally less serious than varroa, it is blamed for many colony losses in the British Isles.

Tropilaelaps clareae: This mite, though currently restricted to Asia, has been shown to parasitize colonies in conjunction with varroa mites.


Wax Moths - Greater Wax Moth (Galleria mellonella), Lesser Wax Moth (Achroia grisella), Mediterranean Flour Moth (Anagasta kuentella): The Greater Wax Moth is perhaps the most serious pest of honeycombs. In general, wax moths are restricted to warmer climates.

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Small Hive Beetle (SHB) – (Aethina tumida): The small hive beetle has only recently been discovered in the United States, but it has caused serious damage to honeybee colonies. Honey that has been fed on by small hive beetle larvae is discolored, frothy, and smells like fermented fruit.


Nosema (Nosema apis, Nosema ceranae): Nosemosis or Nosema caused by N. apis is one of the most common diseases in honeybees. It is usually encountered in confined bees, such as those used for pollination, making it an especial concern for the agricultural industry. The more recently discovered N. ceranae is one of the suspected causes of the current colony collapse disorder.

Amoeba Disease (Malpighamoeba mellificae): M. mellificae is a protozoan that causes amoeba disease in honeybees. The parasite affects Malpighian tubules – long, thread-like projections – in the digestive tracts of adult bees.

Gregarines (Monoica apis, Apigregarina stammeri, Acuta rousseaui, Leidyana apis): These four gregarines attach themselves to the epithelium of the honeybee’s digestive tract.

Flagellates (Crithidia): This species of flagellates have been found free in the lumen or attached to the epithelium.

Colony Collapse Disorder

In recent months, the United States’ honeybee population has been afflicted by a mysterious colony collapse disorder. The population of beehive colonies throughout the country has been drastically reduced, and in some cases completely wiped out. There are many hypotheses regarding the cause of the collapse, including mites, chemical exposure and nosemosis caused by N. ceranae.


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