Diseases and Pests
During the last two decades there has been a tremendous increase in the spread of bee disease around the world. This has been brought about by the movement of honeybee colonies and used beekeeping equipment by people. There are few remaining regions without introduced honeybee diseases, and as a rule used beekeeping equipment should not be imported.
Honeybee colonies, or even single queen bees, must never be moved from one area to another without expert consideration of the consequences.
There are numerous pests that will disrupt a beehive and prey on your bees. Wax moths are almost universal, ants a very common and persistent hazard, and honey badgers a serious nuisance in Africa. It is best to talk to other local beekeepers about what the most common problems are and take their advice about appropriate defences.
The identification of honeybee disease such as Nosema is an essential part of apiculture, as is pollen identification. Brunel Microscopes offer a range of low budget stereomicroscopes and high power compound microscopes ideal for all applications.
Pests - Varroa Mite
Also know as the Vampire Mite, Varroa Mite, Varroa Destructor and often mislabeled as Varroa Jacobsoni.
The Varroa Mite is a parasitic mite that can cause serious trouble to the beekeeper and their bees alike. This tick like mite, around the sized of a pinhead, does its damage by feeding on the bee’s hemolymph fluid (akin to bee blood). Mites attach themselves to foraging workers in order to spread themselves from one hive to another. This mite can severely weaken a hive through vampirism like action and through the spread of disease and bacteria. An unchecked mite population will almost certainly lead to the premature death of a honeybee colony.
Within the United States, Varroa Mites have the most pronounced impact when compared to other pests within the beekeeping industry. The Varroa Mite is also nearly completely responsible for the decimation and loss of feral honeybee colonies. Some beekeepers have resorted to reverting to small cell beekeeping and many hobbyist are moving towards top bar hives in an effort to fight against this aggressive foe. Others are attempting to use mite resistant races of bee with some success.
The Varroa mite was discovered in Southeast Asia in 1904, but now unfortunately spread mostly worldwide. More recently Varroa was discovered in 1987 within the US and in 2000 in New Zealand.
Varroa is approximately 1.00 to 1.77 mm in length and 1.50 to 1.99 mm. Its body closely resembles that of a tick, it has eight legs and the apparatus to both pierce the epidermal layer of adult and larval bees in order to feed. The mite is red-brown in colour and wide and plainly visible to the naked eye when on brood, and can be more difficulty spotted, on some occasions, on the adult bee.
Within a hive mites can reproduce on a 10-day cycle. The female mite, after detaching from an adult bee, will enter the cell of an uncapped brood. The mite shows preference for the drone brood, but will select what is available. Once the cell is sealed, the female will begin to lay eggs and then expire. As the young bee develops, so will the mites. As soon as the new bee is able to leave its berthing cell, the mites attach themselves and start the cycle anew. The life cycle of the Varroa mite is dependant on the existence of brood within a colony.
Symptoms & Detection
Possible signs that a mite infection is underway may include, but is not limited, to the following:
* Mites obvious on brood, emerging bees, or foragers
* Deformed bees
* Discarded larva
* Spotty brood pattern
* Apparently sudden death of colony
* Dead mites found near the entrance of the hive
If Varroa infestation is suspected, there is often nothing major lost by examining. However, a colony may be doomed if left unchecked. Checking for Varroa should be part of a beekeepers regular regiment. The following methods are some common ways to detect a possible mite infestation.