eXtension Articles,News,Faqs- bee health

  1. Has research been done on honey bees comparing 5.4 mm comb cell size with 4.9 mm? I have heard that small cell (4.9 mm) beekeeping can control varroa mites.

    Below is a listing of research into European honey bees on small cell combs. Three of the articles (1, 2, and 5) deal with small cell and varroa mites. All three conclude that small cell does not help the bees deal with varroa mites, or otherwise reduce varroa mite numbers. Article #3 shows that small cell combs do not reduce tracheal mites. Study #4 is unrelated to small cell's effect on parasitic mites and shows that smaller combs do result in smaller bees, when measuring specific morphological characters.

    references

    1. Berry, J. A., Owens, W. B., and Delaplane, K. S. (2010). Small-cell comb foundation does not impede Varroa mite population growth in honey bee colonies. Apidologie 41: 40-44.
    2. Ellis, A. M., Hayes, G. W., and Ellis, J. D. (2009). The efficacy of small cell foundation as a varroa mite (Varroa destructor) control. Experimental and Applied Acarology 47(4): 311-316.
    3. McMullan, J. B., Brown, M. J. F. (2006). Brood-cell size does not influence the susceptibility of honey bees (Apis mellifera) to infestation by tracheal mites (Acarapis woodi). Experimental and Applied Acarology 39: 273-280.
    4. McMullan, J. B., Brown, M. J. F. (2006). The influence of small-cell brood combs on the morphometry of honeybees (Apis mellifera). Apidologie 37: 665-672.
    5. Taylor, M. A., Goodwin, R. M., McBrydie, H. M., and Cox, H. M. (2008). The effect of honey bee worker brood cell size on Varroa destructor infestation and reproduction. Journal of Apicultural Research 47(4): 239-242.
  2. Frequently Asked Questions
    Two "expert" bee researchers ponder a quandary: "well, what do you think?" Credit: Zach Huang



     

          Beekeepers are almost by definition curious individuals. The nature of beekeeping, as with any environmental relationship, is complex. Even some of the most experienced beekeepers are confounded by the mysteries of a bee hive. That is what makes honey bee research a rewarding and never-ending journey.
          Below is a list of commonly asked questions and links to the best answer at the time it was asked. As more information becomes available, perceptions shift, and may render a formerly correct answer invalid. The following list is only a starting point and one should always seek a second opinion on any difficult or important subject. Local knowledge is especially important as geographical variables cannot be resolved in this universal forum. If your question is not listed below, consider using the Ask an Expert function.

     

  3. Honey Bee Lab and Organization Links
    Male Melissodes bees apparently sleeping in a sunflower. Credit: Zach Huang

          Many government agencies, private interest groups, and universities in the US and around the world work to better understand and protect honey bees and other pollinators. Many of these groups offer diagnostic or other services in honey bee health, while others feature informative resources for beekeepers, growers, gardeners, and other stakeholders.
          Below is a selection of websites that offer compelling and trustworthy information or services in the areas of honey bee and pollinator health. 

  4. Honey Bee Viruses, the Deadly Varroa Mite Associates

    If your bees have Varroa, your bees have viruses. 

    Authors: Philip A. Moore, Michael E. Wilson, and John A. Skinner
    Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN
    Date: August 21, 2014

    Introduction

    Varroa mites (Varroa spp.) are a ubiquitous parasite of honey bee (Apis spp.) colonies. They are common nearly everywhere honey bees are found, and every beekeeper should assume they have a Varroa infestation, if they are in a geographic area that has Varroa (Varroa mites are not established in Australia as of spring 2014). Varroa mites were first introduced to the western honey bee (Apis mellifera) about 70 years ago after bringing A. mellifera to the native range of the eastern honey bee (Apis cerana). Varroa mites (Varroa jacobsoni) in eastern honey bee colonies cause little damage. But after switching hosts and being dispersed across the world through natural and commercial transportation of honey bee colonies, Varroa has became a major western honey bee pest since the 1980’s. Varroa mites (Varroa destructor) are now the most serious pest of western honey bee colonies and one of the primary causes of honey bee decline (Dietemann et al. 2012). A western honey bee colony with Varroa, that is not treated to kill the pest, will likely die within one to three years (Korpela et al. 1993; Fries et al. 2006).

    Varroa Life History

    Varroa mites attack honey bee colonies as an external parasite of adult and developing bees, by feeding on hemolymph (fluid of the circulatory system similar to blood), spreading disease, and reducing their lifespan. Evidence suggests that Varroa and their vectored viruses affect the immune response of honey bees, making them more susceptible to disease agents (Yang and Cox-Foster 2005). For more information on this topic see: https://www.extension.org/pages/64997/lessons-learned-by-the-managed-pollinator-cap:-impacts-of-Varroa-parasitism-on-honey-bee-health#.U-T-bONdU7k. Mature female Varroa mites survive on immature and adult honey bees (worker, drone, and rarely queen), are reddish brown, and about the size of a pin head. Male mites are a smaller size and tan color, do not feed on bees, and are only found inside brood cells (Rosenkranz et al. 2010).

    Varroa have two life stages, phoretic and reproductive. The phoretic stage is when a mature Varroa mite is attached to an adult bee and survives on the bee’s hemolymph. During this stage the mite may change hosts often transmitting viruses by picking up the virus on one individual and injecting it to another during feeding. Phoretic mites may fall off the host, sometimes being bitten when bees groom each other, or it may die of old age. Mites found on the bottom board of the hive or that fall though a screen bottom board are called the “natural mite drop”. But these mites that fall off of bees represent a small portion of the total mite population because the reproductive mites are hidden under cell cappings.

    Image 1: Reproductive Varroa mite on a developing pupa (reddish oval) and two immature Varroa (opaque ovals). Credit: Abdullah Ibrahim (arrows added for emphasis)

    The reproductive life stage of Varroa begins when an adult female mite is ready to lay eggs and moves from an adult bee into the cell of a developing larval bee. After the brood cell is capped and the larva begins pupating, the mite begins to feed. After about three days from capping, the mite lays its eggs, one unfertilized egg (male) and four to six fertilized (female) eggs (Rosenkranz et al. 2010). After the eggs hatch, the female mites feed on the pupa, mate with the male mite and the surviving sexually mature female mites stay attached to the host bee when it emerges as an adult. It takes six to seven days for a female mite to mature from egg to adult and it can live two to three months in the summer and five to eight months in the fall. Only mature female mites can survive outside of a brood cell (the phoretic stage), and on average a mite will produce 1.2 viable mature female offspring per worker cell invaded (Schulz 1984; Fuchs & Langenbach 1989). However, since the development time is longer for drone brood, the average viable offspring for a mite in a drone cell increases to 2.2 per cell invaded (Schulz 1984; Fuchs & Langenbach 1989). For more on Varroa life history see: https://www.extension.org/pages/65450/Varroa-mite-reproductive-biology#.U-Jn-eNdU7k

    Viruses

    One of the serious problems caused by Varroa is the transmission of viruses to honey bees which cause deadly diseases. Viruses found in honey bees have been known to scientists for 50 years and were generally considered harmless until the 1980’s when Varroa became a widespread problem. Since then, nearly twenty honey bee viruses have been discovered and the majority of them have an association with Varroa mites, which act as a physical and or biological vector (Kevan et al. 2006). Therefore controlling Varroa populations in a hive will often control the associated viruses and finding symptoms of the viral diseases is indicative of a Varroa epidemic in the colony. Viruses are however, the least understood of honey bee diseases. Emerging information of honey bee viruses continue to alter our understanding of the role viruses play in honey bee colonies (Genersch and Aubert 2010).

    Viral Life History

    Viruses are microscopic organisms that consist of genetic material (RNA or DNA) contained in a protein coat. Viruses do not acquire their own nutrients or live independently, and can only multiply within living cells of a host. An individual virus unit is called a virus particle or virion and the abundance of these particles in a host is called the virus titer. A virus particle injects itself in to a host cell and uses the cells’ organelles to make copies of itself. This process will continue without obvious change to the cell, until the host cell becomes damaged or dies, releasing large amounts of infective virus particles. All forms of life are attacked by viruses and most are host specific.

    Honey Bee Viruses

    Viruses of the honey bee typically infect the larval or pupa stage, but the symptoms are often most obvious in adult bees. Many of these viruses are consumed in pollen or the jelly produced by nurse bees that are fed to developing bees. Many viruses are also transmitted by Varroa. Varroa, when feeding on the hemolymph transfer the viruses directly into the open circulatory system, which reaches every cell in the insect body.

    Honey bee viruses are not limited to honey bees. Honey bee viruses have been found in other non-Apis bee species, other colony inhabitants like small hive beetle, and in pollen and nectar (Andersen 1991; Bailey and Gibbs 1964; Genersch et al. 2006; Singh et al 2010). For more on honey bee pathogens found in native bees see: https://www.extension.org/pages/30998/wild-bee-status-and-evidence-for-pathogen-spillover-with-honey-bees#.U-UAJONdU7k. Transfer of honey bee viruses from infected colonies to non-infected individuals or colonies can occur during foraging on common flowers or through robbing of weak or collapsed colonies (Singh et al 2010). 

    Identification of a virus is difficult due to the small size of particles. Expensive and often uncommon laboratory equipment is required for accurate diagnosis. However, symptoms of some viral diseases are more visible, especially with overt infection. A lack of symptoms does not rule out the presence of a virus. Viruses can remain in a latent form within the host, acting as a reservoir of infection, complicating diagnosis and control, and only becoming an outbreak when conditions are right.

    Viral Prevalence in the United States

    The USDA-APHIS National Honey Bee Pests and Diseases Survey has taken samples from honey bee colonies in over 27 states since the year 2009. Data from these surveys and other data are complied into a database with the Bee Informed Partnership and used to determine baseline disease level, determine the absence of exotic honey bee pests that have not yet been found in America, and to gauge the overall health of U.S. honey bee colonies. Results of virus presence from the 2013 survey are below (Figure 1). Deformed wing virus (DWV) and Black queen cell virus (BQCV) were present in over 80% of sampled colonies. Other viruses were much less common, but still present in 10-20 percent of colonies sampled. Of the viruses tested for presence, only slow bee paralysis virus (SBPV) was not found in the U.S

    Figure 1: 2013 USDA-APHIS National Honey Bee Pests and Diseases Survey, Virus Prevalence Results (Virus abbreviations: BQCV=Black queen cell virus; DWV= Deformed wing virus; LSV2= Lake Sinai virus 2; ABPV= Acute bee paralysis virus; KBV= Kashmir bee virus; IAPV= Israel acute paralysis virus; CBPV= Chronic bee paralysis virus; SBPV= Slow bee paralysis virus)

    Sacbrood

    Sacbrood, a disease cause by a virus, was the first honey bee virus to be discovered in the early 20th century and now has a recognized widespread distribution. It is perhaps the most common honey bee viruses (Shen et al. 2005). This disease has been found in adult, queen, egg, and larval bees, in all forms of food, and in Varroa mites, suggesting a wide range of transmission routes. Although it is commonly found without serious outbreak, sacbrood is more likely to cause disease when the division of labor is less defined, in the early parts of the year before the nectar flow, or during prolong dearth (Bailey 1981). It often goes unnoticed since it usually infects only a small portion of brood, and adult bees will usually detect and remove infected larvae.

    Image 2: Sacbrood infected pupa. Credit: Michael E. Wilson

    The disease causes larvae to fail to shed their final skin prior to pupation, after the larva has spun its cocoon. Infected larvae remain on their back with their head towards the cell capping. Fluid accumulates in the body and the color will change from pearly white to pale yellow, with the head changing color first. Then, after the larva dies, it becomes dark brown with the head black (Image 2). Larvae that have ingested sufficient quantities of sacbrood in their food die after being sealed in their comb.

    Sacbrood multiplies in several body tissues of young larvae but these larvae appear normal until cell capping. Each larva that dies from sacbrood contains enough virus particles to infect every larva in 1000 colonies (Bailey 1981). But in most instances, diseased larvae are quickly removed in the early stages of the disease by nurse bees. The cell cappings are first punctured to detect the disease, which a good sign of infection for the beekeeper look for (Image 6). Then, young worker bees remove the diseased larvae from the colony. Adult bees, although not susceptible to infection, become a harbor as the virus collects in the bee’s hypopharyngeal glands, which are used to produce larval jelly (Bailey 1981). These infected adult bees, however, cease to eat pollen and soon stop tending larvae. They will become foragers more quickly in life than usual and tend to collect nectar instead of pollen (Bailey 1981).  Nectar that contains the virus becomes diluted in the colony when mixed with nectar from other foragers. Whereas pollen, is collected and compacted into the “pollen basket” and deposited intact into a cell. Dilute virus containing nectar is less likely to cause infection than when the virus is concentrated in a pollen pellet. Therefore use caution when transferring frames with pollen among colonies. Little is known of the other transmission routes: through Varroa mites, between workers, from bee feces or through transovarial transmission (from queen to egg). Sacbrood usually subsides in late spring when the honey flow begins, but if symptoms persist, requeening with hygienic stock is recommended (Frazier et al. 2011).

    Deformed Wing Virus (DWV)

    Deformed wing virus is common, widely distributed, and closely associated with Varroa mites. Both the virus titers and prevalence of the virus in colonies are directly linked to Varroa infestations (Bowens-Walker et al. 1999). In heavily Varroa infested colonies, nearly 100 percent of adult workers may be infected with DWV and have high virus titers even without showing symptoms (de Miranda et al. 2012). DWV is strongly associated with winter colony mortality (Highfield et al 2009; Genersch et al 2010). Control of DWV is usually achieved by treatment against Varroa,  After treatment a gradual decrease in virus titers occurs as infected bees are replaced by healthy ones (Martin et al 2010). DWV can be found in all castes and life stages of honey bees and will persist in adults without obvious symptoms. DWV is also transmitted through food, feces, from queen to egg, and from drone to queen (de Miranda et al. 2012).

    Image 3: Adult bees with deformed wings resulting from DWV. Credit: Katherine Aronstein

    Acute infections of DWV are typically linked to high Varroa infestation levels (Martin et al 2010). Covert infections (a detectable level of virus without damaging symptoms) can occur through transovarial transmission (Chen et al. 2004), and through larval food (Chen et al. 2006). Symptoms noted in acute infections include early death of pupae, deformed wings, shortened abdomen, and cuticle discoloration in adult bees, which die within 3 days causing the colony to eventually collapse. Not all mite infested pupae develop these symptoms, but all adult honey bees with symptoms develop from parasitized pupae. Bees infected as adults can have high virus titers but do not develop symptoms. DWV may also affect aggression (Fujiyuki et al. 2004) and learning behaviors of adult bees (Iqbal and Muller 2007). DWV appears to replicate in Varroa, making it a biological as well as physical vector. Infection of pupae may be dependent on DWV replication in Varroa prior to transmission. Winter colony mortality is strongly associated with DWV presence, irrespective of Varroa infestation. This suggests that Varroa infection should be reduced in a colony far in advance of producing overwintering bees, to ensure reduction in DWV titers. DWV is closely related to Kakugo Virus and Varroa destructor Virus 1, which together form the Deformed Wing Virus Complex (de Miranda et al. 2012).

    Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV)

    Black queen cell virus is a widespread and common virus that persists as asymptomatic infections of worker bees and brood. Although generally understood as being asymptomatic in adult bees, Shutler et al. (2014) found BQCV to be associated with the symptom K-wing, where the wing pair is disjointed and more perpendicular to one another. Queen pupae with symptoms display a pale yellow sac-like skin similar to sacbrood. The pupae rapidly darken after death and turn the wall of the queen cell dark brown to black. Symptomatic drone pupae have also been observed. Unlike other viruses that are associated with Varroa, BQCV is strongly associated with Nosema apis and little evidence supports its co-occurrence with Varroa, although, BQCV has been isolated from Varroa (Ribière et al. 2008). Nosema disease affects a bee’s mid gut, increasing susceptibility of the alimentary tract to infection by BQCV. BQCV can be orally transmitted to adults only when Nosema has co-infected (Ribière et al. 2008). It can also be transmitted by injection to pupae. BQCV has a seasonal relationship similar to Nosema, with a strong peak in spring. Because of the seasonal occurrence with Nosema, queen rearing operations who produce queens in the spring are susceptible to BQCV (Ribière et al. 2008).

    Image 4: Dysentery on the front of a hive is a symptom but not indicative of Nosema disease. Credit: Michael E. Wilson

    Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV)

    Chronic bee paralysis virus was one of the first honey bee viruses to be isolated. It is unique among honey bee viruses in that it has a distinct particle size and genome composition. It is also the only common honey bee virus to have both visual behavior and physiological modifications resulting from infection. Symptoms of the disease are observed in adult bees displaying one of two sets of symptoms called syndromes (Genersch & Aubert 2010). Type 1 symptoms include trembling motion of the wings and bodies of adult bees, who are unable to fly, and crawl along the ground or up plant stems, often clustering together. The bees may also have a bloated abdomen, causing dysentery and will die within a few days after displaying symptoms.

    Type 2 symptoms are greasy, hairless, black adult bees that can fly, but within a few days, become flightless, trembling, and soon die (Image 5). Both of these syndromes can occur within the same colony. Severely affected colonies, often the strongest in an apiary (Ribiere at al. 2010), quickly lose adult workers, causing collapse and often leaving few adult bees with the queen on unattended comb (Bailey & Ball 1991). These symptoms, however, are similar and often confused with other honey bee maladies including Nosema apis, colony collapse disorder (CCD), tracheal mites, chemical toxicity, and other viruses.

    Image 5: Bees with CBPV type 2 symptoms: greasy and hairless. Credit: The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright

    Transmission of the virus primarily occurs through direct body contact, although oral transmission also occurs but is much less virulent. Direct body transmission happens when bees are either crowded or confined within the hive for a long period of time (due to poor weather or during long-distance transportation) or when too many colonies are foraging within a limited area, such as a monoculture of sunflower with high honey bee colony density (Genersch & Aubert 2010). In both instances, small cuts from broken hairs on an adult bee’s cuticle and direct contact with infected adult bees spreads the virus through their exposed pores; if this occurs rapidly and enough adult bees are infected, an outbreak with colony mortality will occur. Feces from infected bees within a colony can also spread the disease, and other transmission routes are still being investigated, including possible Varroa transmission. The virus is widespread and an outbreak can occur at any time of year. Spring and summer are the most common seasons for mortality from the virus, but it will persist in a colony year-round without displaying any overt symptoms (de Miranda et al. 2012).

    Two new viruses related to CBPV with no yet described symptoms are Lake Sinai virus 1 (LSV1) and Lake Sinai virus 2 (LSV2) (Runckel et al. 2011). New molecular tools have allowed researchers to identify the presence of these and other new viruses and their seasonality in test colonies. Little else is know of the Lake Sinai viruses, including its pathogenic or epidemiological significance. Other described honey bee viruses that were discovered before the advent of molecular techniques have no genomic data to reference; therefore newly discovered viruses may in fact be the already discovered viruses of the past such as Bee virus X and Y, Arkansas Bee Virus or Berkeley Bee Virus (Runckel et al. 2011).

    Acute Bee Paralysis Virus Complex

    Acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV), Kashmir bee virus (KBV), and Israel acute paralysis virus (IAPV) are a complex of associated viruses with similar transmission routes and affect similar life stages. These viruses are widespread at low titers and can quickly develop high titers due to extremely virulent pathology. Frequently associated with colony loss, this virus complex is especially deadly when colonies are heavily infested with Varroa mites. (Ball 1989; Genersch 2010, Genersh et al. 2010).  These viruses have not been shown to cause symptoms in larval life stages, but show quick mortality in pupae and adult bees.

    Acute Bee Paralysis Virus (ABPV)

    Acute bee paralysis virus was accidentally discovered when CBPV was first isolated. ABPV displays similar symptoms as CBPV however the acute adjective describes a bees’ more rapid mortality compared to CBPV. Unlike CBPV, ABPV virulence is directly related to Varroa infestation. APBV is transmitted in larval jelly from asymptomatic infected adult bees to developing larva or when vectored by Varroa mites to larvae and pupae. ABPV is common and typically cause covert infections (no obvious symptoms) when transmitted orally from adult to developing bee. It takes about one billion viral particles to cause death via ingestion, but when vectored by Varroa and directly injected into the developing bee’s hemolymph, only 100 virus particles will cause death (Genersch & Aubert 2010). When the virus is picked up by Varroa, the transmission rate to pupae is between 50 and 90 percent. The longer the feeding period of Varroa, the greater the transmission rate will become. (Genersch & Aubert 2010). Pupae infected with ABPV die before emerging, making the appearance of paralysis symptoms less obvious. The decline in emerging bees causes a colony to dwindle towards collapse. A colony infected with an ABPV epidemic will die within one season (Sumpter and Martin 2004). 

    Kashmir Bee Virus (KBV)

    Kashmir bee virus has widespread distribution and is considered the most virulent of honey bee viruses under laboratory condition (Allen and Ball 1996). When KBV is injected in to adult bee hemolymph, death occurs in just 3 days (de Miranda et al. 2012). KBV does not cause infection when fed to developing bees, but does persist in adult and developing bees without any obvious symptoms. When Varroa mites transmit the virus, it becomes deadly to all forms of the bee lifecycle but displays no clearly defined symptoms. Even with moderate levels of mite infestation, KBV, like ABPV, can kill colonies (Todd et al. 2007). Control of Varroa mites is necessary to prevent colony losses from KBV.

    Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV)

    Symptoms of IAPV are similar to ABPV and CBPV including: shivering wings, darkened hairless abdomens and thoraxes, progressing into paralysis and death. IAPV is found in all life stages and castes of bees. IAPV and other viruses were found to be strongly associated with colony collapse disorder (CCD) in the United States, but no direct relationship between the viruses and CCD has yet been shown (Cox-Foster et al. 2007).  IAPV is extremely virulent at high titers, as when vectored by Varroa and is covert at low titers.

    Slow Bee Paralysis Virus

    In contrast to ABPV, which produces symptoms in a few days after infection, SBPV induces paralysis after 12 days, and only on the two fore (anterior) legs. SBPV persists as a covert infection and is transmitted by Varroa to adults and pupae. The disease will kill adult bees and eventually the entire colony (de Miranda et al. 2012). Prevalence of the virus is limited. It has not been found in the U.S., but has been found in England, Switzerland, Fiji and Western Samoa and only in Britain has SBPV been associated with colony deaths (Carreck et al. 2010).

    Summary

    Most pathogens invade the digestive system through oral ingestion of inoculated food. These pathogens infect the mid gut epithelial cells, which are constantly being replaced and are protected by membranes and filters which confine the pathogen to gut tissues. Parasites that infect gut tissue like Nosema apis and Nosema cerana can create lesions in the epithelium that allow a virus like BQCV to pass into the hemolymph and infect other cells in the body. In contrast the external parasite Varroa destructor feeds directly on bee hemolymph providing an opening in the cuticle for viruses to enter. Most virus infections rarely cause infection when ingested orally, but only a few virus particles are necessary to cause infection when injected directly into the hemolymph. Many viruses can be directly transmitted by Varroa mites, such as: DWV, those in the acute bee paralysis virus complex, and slow bee paralysis virus. Other viruses, like sacbrood, have been detected in Varroa mites but Varroa has not been shown to directly transmit the virus. Some viruses, like DWV, have been shown to directly multiply in Varroa mites, however in most cases we don’t know the exact relationship of Varroa mites to viruses or enough about how transmission occurs from mites to bees. Knowledge about the presence, role, and transmitting routes of these viruses in native bees, and other potential non-Varroa transmission routes is also lacking in detail, complicating recommendations for control. Research does show viruses clearly affect honey bee health and warrant attention from the beekeeper and researcher alike.

    Control

    Viruses persist in normal, healthy colonies, only to explode during times of stress. Many viruses are only damaging when in combination with another stressor like Varroa or Nosema. Active, integrated management of Varroa and other stressors is essential to minimizing virus titers. To learn more about reducing stressors with best management practices see: https://www.extension.org/mediawiki/files/8/8a/BMPs_with_CAP.pdf   

    Routinely inspect your colonies for possible disease. Have a thorough knowledge of symptoms and identify when colonies are slow to build up or have sporadic brood patterns, indicating brood has been pulled out and removed (Image 6). If you suspect you have a disease, take a sample and send it to be identified. For more information on submitting a sample for diagnosis see: http://www.ars.usda.gov/Main/docs.htm?docid=7472.

    Image 6: Punctured cell cappings that indicate adult bees have detected a brood disease (note DWV infected adult bee). Credit:  The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright (Arrows added for emphasis)

    Other future avenues of control include breeding hygienic bee strains that detect brood diseases and remove infected individuals from colonies or breeding of resistance to Varroa infestation. Specific resistance to viruses are not yet considered in most breeding programs. There is evidence of specific viral resistance in honey bees, and there has been at least some attempt to breed resistance to IAPV. For more on this topic see: https://www.extension.org/pages/61384/an-update-on-bee-breeding-efforts-in-indiana:-breeding-for-resistance-to-israeli-acute-paralysis-vir#.U-UAX-NdU7k .

    Another promising research area for controlling honey bee viruses in the use of gene silencing called RNAi. The private bee research company Beeologics, as well as public and private university researchers are developing this method and a consumer product may be available in the near future as RNAi technology continues to become more efficient and inexpensive. For more on this topic see: https://www.extension.org/pages/70965/managed-pollinator-cap-update:-rnai-for-treating-honey-bee-diseases#.U-UAs-NdU7k

    References  

    1. Allen, M. and B.V. Ball. 1996. The incidence and world distribution of the honey bee viruses. Bee World 77: 141-162.
    2. Anderson DL (1991) Kashmir bee virus - a relatively harmless virus of honeybee colonies. Am. Bee J. 131: 767–770.
    3. Bailey, L. 1981. Honey bee pathology. Academic Press. London. 9-25.
    4. Bailey, L. and B. V. Ball. 1991. Honey bee pathology (2nd ed.). Academic Press. London
    5. Bailey L, Gibbs AJ (1964) Acute infection of bees with paralysis virus. J. Insect Pathol. 6: 395–407.
    6. Ball, B. V. 1989. Varroa jacobsoni as a virus vector. In Present Status of Varroatosis in Europe and Progress in the Varra Mite Control. Proc. Meeting, Undine, Italy, 1988. Cavalloro, E. (Ed.) EC-Experts Group, Luxembourg. pp. 241-244.
    7. Bowen-Walker, P. L., S. J. Martin, & A. Gunn. 1999. The Transmission of Deformed Wing Virus between Honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) by the Ectoparasitic Mite Varroa jacobsoni Oud. Journal of invertebrate pathology 73(1), 101-106.
    8. Carreck, N. L., D. V. Ball, & S. J. Martin. 2010. Honey bee colony collapse and changes in viral prevalence associated with Varroa destructor. J. Apic. Res. 49(1), 93-94.
    9. Chen, Y. P., J. S. Pettis, A. Collins, & M. F. Feldlaufer. 2006. Prevalence and transmission of honeybee viruses. Applied and environmental microbiology 72(1), 606-611.
    10. Chen, Y., J. S. Pettis, J. D Evans, M. Kramer, & M. F. Feldlaufer. 2004. Transmission of Kashmir bee virus by the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor. Apidologie 35(4), 441-448.
    11. Cox-Foster, D. L., S. Conlan, E. C. Holmes, G. Palacios, J. D. Evans, N. A. Moran, P. Quan, T. Briese, M. Hornig, D. M. Geiser, V. Martinson, D. vanEngelsdorp, A. L. Kalkstein, A. Drysdale, J. Hui, J. Zhai, L. Cui, S. K. Hutchinson, J. F. Simons, M. Egholm, , J. S. Pettis, W. I. Lipkin. 2007. A metagenomic survey of microbes in honey bee colony collapse disorder.  Science 318(5848), 283-287.
    12. Dietemann, V., J. Pflugfelder, D. Anderson, J. D. Charrière, N. Chejanovsky, B. Dainat, J. de Miranda, K. Delaplane, F. Diller, S. Fuch, P. Gallman, L. Gauthier, A. Imdorf, N. Koeniger, J. Kralj, W. Meikle, J. Pettis, P. Rosenkranz, D. Sammataro, D. Smith, O. Yañez, P. Neumann. 2012. Varroa destructor: research avenues towards sustainable control. Journal of Apicultural Research 51(1): 125-132
    13. Evans, J. D., & R. S. Schwarz. 2011. Bees brought to their knees: microbes affecting honey bee health. Trends in microbiology 19(12), 614-620.
    14. Francis, R. M., S. L. Nielsen, & p. Kryger. 2013. Varroa-virus interaction in collapsing honey bee colonies. PloS one 8(3).
    15. Fujiyuki, T., H. Takeuchi, M. Ono, S. Ohka, T. Sasaki, A. Nomoto, & T. Kubo, 2004. Novel insect picorna-like virus identified in the brains of aggressive worker honeybees. Journal of virology 78(3), 1093-1100.
    16. Fraxier, M., C. Dewey, & D. vanEngelsdorp. 2011. A field guide to honey bees and their maladies. Ag Communications and Marketing # AGRS-116. The Pennsylvania State University.
    17. Fries, I, A. Imdorf,P.  Rosenkranz. 2006. Survival of mite infested (Varroa destructor) honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies in a Nordic climate. Apidologie 37: 564-570
    18. Fuchs, S. & K. Langenback. 1989. Multiple infestation of Apis mellifera L. brood cells and reproduction of in Varroa jacobsoni Oud. Apidologie, 20, 257–266.
    19. Genersch, E. 2010 Honey bee pathology: Current threats to honey bees and beekeeping. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 87, 87-97.
    20. Genersch, E., W. von der Ohe, H. Kaatz, A. Schroeder, C. Otten,R. Büchler ... & P. Rosenkranz. 2010. The German bee monitoring project: a long term study to understand periodically high winter losses of honey bee colonies. Apidologie 41(3), 332-352.
    21. Genersch, E., & M. Aubert. 2010. Emerging and re-emerging viruses of the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.). Veterinary research 41(6), 54.
    22. Genersch, E., C. Yue, I. Fries, & J. R. de Miranda. 2006. Detection of Deformed wing virus a honey bee viral pathogen, in bumble bees ( Bombus terrestris and Bombus pascuorum) with wing deformities.Journal of invertebrate pathology 91(1), 61-63.
    23. Gochnauer, T. A. 1978. Viruses. In Morse, R. A., & Nowogrodzki, R. (Eds.) Honey bee pests, predators, and diseases, (2nd ed). Cornell University Press.
    24. Highfield, A. C., A., El Nagar, L. C. Mackinde, M. L. N. Laure, M. J. Hall, S. J. Martin, & D. C. Schroeder. 2009. Deformed wing virus implicated in overwintering honeybee colony losses. Applied and environmental microbiology 75(22), 7212-7220.
    25. Iqbal, J., & U. Mueller. 2007. Virus infection causes specific learning deficits in honeybee foragers. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 274(1617), 1517-1521.
    26. Kevan, P. G., M. A. Hannan, N. Ostiguy, & E. Guzman-Novoa. 2006. A summary of the Varroa-virus disease complex in honey bees. Am. Bee J. 146 (8), 694-697.
    27. Korpela, S. A. Aarhus, I. Fries, H. Hansen. 1992. Varroa jacobsoni Oud. in cold climates: population growth, winter mortality and influence on the survival of honey bee colonies. Journal of Apicultural Research 31: 157-164.
    28. Martin, S. J.,  B. V. Ball, & N. L. Carreck. 2010. Prevalence and persistence of deformed wing virus (DWV) in untreated or acaricide-treated Varroa destructor infested honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies. Journal of Apicultural Research 49(1), 72-79.
    29. de Miranda, J. R., B.Dainat,  B. Locke, G.Cordoni,  H. Berthoud, L. Gauthier,... & D. B.Stoltz. 2010. Genetic characterization of slow bee paralysis virus of the honeybee (Apis mellifera L.). Journal of General Virology 91(10), 2524-2530.
    30. de Miranda, J. R., L. Gauthier, M. Ribiere, and Y. P. Chen.  2012. Honey bee viruses and their effect on bee and colony health. In D. Sammataro & J. Yoder (Eds.) Honey bee colony health: challenges and sustainable solutions. CRC Press. Boca Raton. 71-102.
    31. Ribière, M., B. Ball, & M. Aubert. 2008. Natural history and geographical distribution of honey bee viruses. In M. Aubert (Ed.) Virology and the honey bee. European Communities, Luxembourg, 15-84.
    32. Ribière, M., V. Olivier, & P. Blanchard. 2010. Chronic bee paralysis: A disease and a virus like no other? Journal of invertebrate pathology 103, 120-131.
    33. Rosenkranz, P., P. Aumeier, & B. Ziegelmann. 2010. Biology and control of Varroa destructorJournal of invertebrate pathology 103, 96-119.
    34. Runckel, C., M. L. Flenniken, J. C. Engel, J. G. Ruby, D. Ganem, R. Andino & J. L. DeRisi. 2011. Temporal analysis of the honey bee microbiome reveals four novel viruses and seasonal prevalence of known viruses, Nosema, and CrithidiaPloS one 6(6).
    35. Schulz, A. 1984. Reproduktion und Populationsentwicklung der parasitischen Milbe Varroa jacobsoni Oud. in Abhänkgigkeit vom Brutzyklus ihres Wirtes Apis mellifera L. Apidologie 15, 401–420.
    36. Shen, M., L. Cui, N. Ostiguy, & D. Cox-Foster. 2005. Intricate transmission routes and interactions between picorna-like viruses (Kashmir bee virus and sacbrood virus) with the honeybee host and the parasitic Varroa mite. Journal of General Virology 86(8), 2281-2289.
    37. Shutler, D., Head, K., Burgher-MacLellan, K. L., Colwell, M. J., Levitt, A. L., Ostiguy, N., & Williams, G. R. (2014). Honey Bee Apis mellifera Parasites in the Absence of Nosema ceranae Fungi and Varroa destructor Mites. PloS one,9(6), e98599.
    38. Singh R, Levitt AL, Rajotte EG, Holmes EC, Ostiguy N, et al. (2010) RNA Viruses in Hymenopteran Pollinators: Evidence of Inter-Taxa Virus Transmission via Pollen and Potential Impact on Non-Apis Hymenopteran Species. PLoS ONE 5(12).
    39. Sumpter, D. J., & S. J. Martin 2004. The dynamics of virus epidemics in Varroa‐infested honey bee colonies. Journal of Animal Ecology73(1), 51-63.
    40. Todd, J. H. J. R. de Miranda, and B. V. Ball. 2007. Incidence and molecular characterization of viruses found in dying New Zealand honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies infested with Varroa destructor. Apidologie 38: 354-367.
    41. Yang, X. and D.L. Cox-Foster. 2005. Impact of an ectoparasite on the immunity and pathology of an invertebrate: Evidence for host immunosuppression and viral amplification. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 102 (21): 7470-7475.
    Thank you to Jay Evans (USDA-ARS) for review of this article
  5. Honey Bees Disease and Pest Resources

    Download a diagnostic manual for all honey bee ailments

    Many diseases, parasites, predators, and conditions affect honey bee colonies.

    In addition to pages on eXtension.org, the following resources can guide you in the identification and treatment of these issues.

    Diagnosis of Honey Bee Diseases; Shimanuki, H. and Knox, D. A.; USDA-ARS Agriculture Handbook Number 690; Download a .pdf of Diagnosis of Honey Bee Diseases


    Additional websites for honey bee health information:


    A family of varroa mites found at the bottom of a honey bee brood cell. Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS.

     

  6. Bee Health Contents
  7. Native Bees
    Metallic sweat bee (Augochlora pura). Photo by Philip Moore. Credit: Sam Droege

     

          Honey bees (Apis mellifera) are but one species among thousands of different bees within the superfamily Apoidea. Honey bees are unique in their societal life cycle and storage of large food reserves; most bees are solitary, nest individually, and do not store surplus food. Honey bees are not native to America and were imported from Europe early on during colonization. Native bees have evolved with the existing flora and some have established intricate relationships with particular flowers. Conserving populations of native bees is important because they are valuable pollinators of many plant species, often performing pollination more effectively than honey bees.
          Understanding some of the characteristics of native bees will help foster a positive environment for all bees. Below are a few articles that will help explain a bit about native bees.

  8. Dance Language of the Honey Bee

    Social behavior in bees has a number of advantages. One of the most important of these is the ability to quickly mobilize a large number of foragers to gather floral resources that may only be available for a short period of time. The ability to communicate location with such precision is one of the most interesting behaviors of a very interesting insect.

    The recruitment of foragers from a hive begins when a scout bee returns to the hive engorged with nectar from a newly found nectar source. She begins by spending 30-45 seconds regurgitating and distributing nectar to bees waiting in the hive. Once her generosity has garnered an audience, the dancing begins. There are 2 types of bee dances: the round dance and the tail-wagging or waggle dance, with a transitional form known as the sickle dance.

    In all cases the quality and quantity of the food source determines the liveliness of the dances. If the nectar source is of excellent quality, nearly all foragers will dance enthusiastically and at length each time they return from foraging. Food sources of lower quality will produce fewer, shorter, and less vigorous dances; recruiting fewer new foragers.

    The Round Dance

    Photo: Bill Tietjen, Bellarmine University

    The round dance is used for food sources 25-100 meters away from the hive or closer. After distributing some of her new-found nectar to waiting bees the scout will begin running in a small circle, switching direction every so often. After the dance ends food is again distributed at this or some other place on the comb and the dance may be repeated three or (rarely) more times.

    The round dance does not give directional information. Bees elicited into foraging after a round dance fly out of the hive in all directions searching for the food source they know must be there. Odor helps recruited bees find the new flowers in two ways. Bees watching the dance detect fragrance of the flower left on the dancing bee. Additionally, the scout bee leaves odor from its scent gland on the flower that helps guide the recruits.

    The Waggle Dance

    As the food source becomes more distant the round dance is replaced by the waggle dance. There is a gradual transition between the round and waggle dance, taking place through either a figure eight or sickle shaped pattern.

     

    Shown here is a dancing bee on a swarm. The marked bee has returned from a sugar water feeder. She is seen here being unloaded by a number of bees, and then begins to dance, which communicates the source of sugar water related to the current sun azimuth. This recording was produced at the University of California, Riverside by Kirk Visscher.


    The waggle dance includes information about the direction and energy required to fly to the goal. Energy expenditure (or distance) is indicated by the length of time it takes to make one circuit. For example a bee may dance 8-9 circuits in 15 seconds for a food source 200 meters away, 4-5 for a food source 1000 meters away, and 3 circuits in 15 seconds for a food source 2000 meters away.

    Photo: Bill Tietjen, Bellarmine University

     

     

     

     

     

    Direction of the food source is indicated by the direction the dancer faces during the straight portion of the dance when the bee is waggling. If she waggles while facing straight upward, than the food source may be found in the direction of the sun.

    Photo: Bill Tietjen, Bellarmine University

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If she waggles at an angle 60 degrees to the left of upward the food source may be found 60 degrees to the left of the sun.

    Photo: Bill Tietjen, Bellarmine University

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Similarly, if the dancer waggles 120 degrees to the right of upward, the food source may be found 210 degrees to the right of the sun. The dancer emits sounds during the waggle run that help the recruits determine direction in the darkness of the hive.

     

     


    Source: The information in this article was taken from "The Dance Language and Orientation of Bees" by Karl von Frisch

  9. Beekeeping Equipment

    A productive apiary with standard bee hive equipment on hive stands. Credit: The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright
     

         The modern bee hive was invented by the Reverend L. L. Langstroth, patented in 1852, after his monumental discovery of "bee space". Bee space describes the phenomenon that if a space less than 1/4 inch is left the bees fill it with propolis (a glue like substance produced from tree sap) and, when a space larger than 3/8 inch is left the bees fill it with comb. The majority of bee hives used today are still based on Langstroth's design.
          Given the narrow range of tolerance with bee space, hive components must fit together tightly to limit excess or too little open space. Each manufacturer may produce bee hives slightly differently and combining components from different companies can cause problems. Careful research and experience with each company's components is important before investing in hive equipment. Below are articles to explain a few of the necessary hive equipment. 

  10. Collecting and Identifying Bees

    Collecting and identifying bees can be a fun and educational activity for all ages. It can also be an effective way to monitor ecological change and effects on bee diversity. Honey bees found in the United States (Apis mellifera) only represent one species out of over 3,500 US bee species.

     

     

     


    Bees, which are in the superfamily Apoidea, come in an amazing diversity of size, shape, color, and surface textures. Collecting bees brings a greater appreciation and understanding for this important facet of nature to both the collector and audience the collection is shared with.

     

     

    A collection of bees mounted in a Cornell insect drawer. Insect drawers offer protection and viewing through a glass cover. Insects in these drawers should be protected from dermestid beetles with and insecticide, in this case a red fumigant strip. Dermestid beetles find, then slowly eat and destroy unprotected insect collections.

     

    Resources available to help you develop a bee collection.


     

    Sam Droege, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Beltsville, MD has several instructional videos on collecting bees. See his YouTube channel at: youtube.com/swdroege

     

    To identify bees to genus or species, special 'Keys' are used. Keys can be thought of as a flow chart of characters found on a bee that eventually lead you to the species name. Probably the most up to date key to identify bees in the USA, particularly east of Mississippi river, is an interactive key at:

    Help with identifying bees through photography in a public user website:

    Videos on collecting insects

    Characters used in Identifying Bees

     

    This bee has a character used in identification that we would describe as "Metallic race car green". To identify bees, you will need to look for specific characters that are used in keys. For examples, see: Characters used in Identifying Bees.

     

    Acknowledgments:

  11. Honey Bees and Beekeeping: Things are Buzzing

    Menu


    Part I

    1. Introduction

    • A Brief History
    • Building Supers and Frames
    • Preparing Food Supplements and Medications

    2. In the Beginning

    • Bee Biology and Equipment
    • Receiving and Installing Bees
    • Releasing Queens

    3. Things are Buzzing

    • Things are Buzzin
    • The Brood Nest
    • Our Growing Hives
    • Migrating our Hives

    4. A Mid-season Break

    • Requeening
    • Queen Rearing
    • Package Production, Beekeeping Associations, Books and Periodicals 

    Part II

    5. Diseases and Pests

    • Diseases and Pests
    • Chalbrood, Sacbrood, Moths, Tracheal Mites
    • Varroa Mites and Queenlessness

    6. It's Harvest Time

    • It's Harvest Time
    • Extracting Honey
    • Packaging and Selling Honey
    • Commercial Honey Processing

    7. Rounding Out the Year

    • Overwintering Hives
    • Overwintering and One Story Hives
    • Second Season Management
    • Fall Management

    Things are Buzzing

    • Things are Buzzin
    • The Brood Nest
    • Our Growing Hives
    • Migrating our Hives

    Things are Buzzing: Section 3.1: Things are buzzin

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

    Things are Buzzing: Section 3.2: The brood nest

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

    Things are Buzzing: Section 3.3: Our Growing Hives

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

    Things are Buzzing: Section 3.4: Migrating our Hhives

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

  12. Honey Bees and Beekeeping: A Year in the Life of an Apiary
    This online video walks you through one year of managing honey bee colonies.

    Menu


    Part I

    1. Introduction

    • A Brief History
    • Building Supers and Frames
    • Preparing Food Supplements and Medications

    2. In the Beginning

    • Bee Biology and Equipment
    • Receiving and Installing Bees
    • Releasing Queens

    3. Things are Buzzing

    • Things are Buzzin
    • The Brood Nest
    • Our Growing Hives
    • Migrating our Hives

    4. A Mid-season Break

    • Requeening
    • Queen Rearing
    • Package Production, Beekeeping Associations, Books and Periodicals 

    Part II

    5. Diseases and Pests

    • Diseases and Pests
    • Chalbrood, Sacbrood, Moths, Tracheal Mites
    • Varroa Mites and Quenlessness

    6. It's Harvest Time

    • It's Harvest Time
    • Extracting Honey
    • Packaging and Selling Honey
    • Commercial Honey Processing

    7. Rounding Out the Year

    • Overwintering Hives
    • Overwintering and One Story Hives
    • Second Season Management
    • Fall Management
     

    Introduction

    • A Brief History
    • Building Supers and Frames
    • Preparing Food Supplements and Medications

    Introduction: Section 1.1: A Brief History

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040

    Introduction: Section 1.2: Building Supers and Frames

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040

    Introduction: Section 1.3: Preparing Food Supplements and Medications

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040

     

  13. Honey Bees and Beekeeping: In the Beginning

    Menu


    Part I

    1. Introduction

    • A Brief History
    • Building Supers and Frames
    • Preparing Food Supplements and Medications

    2. In the Beginning

    • Bee Biology and Equipment
    • Receiving and Installing Bees
    • Releasing Queens

    3. Things are Buzzing

    • Things are Buzzin
    • The Brood Nest
    • Our Growing Hives
    • Migrating our Hives

    4. A Mid-season Break

    • Requeening
    • Queen Rearing
    • Package Production, Beekeeping Associations, Books and Periodicals 

    Part II

    5. Diseases and Pests

    • Diseases and Pests
    • Chalbrood, Sacbrood, Moths, Tracheal Mites
    • Varroa Mites and Queenlessness

    6. It's Harvest Time

    • It's Harvest Time
    • Extracting Honey
    • Packaging and Selling Honey
    • Commercial Honey Processing

    7. Rounding Out the Year

    • Overwintering Hives
    • Overwintering and One Story Hives
    • Second Season Management
    • Fall Management

    In the Beginning

    • Bee Biology and Equipment
    • Receiving and Installing Bees
    • Releasing Queens

    In the Beginning: Section 2.1: Bee Biology and Equipment

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

    In the Beginning: Section 2.2: Receiving and Installing Bees

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

    In the Beginning: Section 2.3: Releasing Queens

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

     

  14. Honey Bees and Beekeeping: Rounding Out the Year

    Menu


    Part I

    1. Introduction

    • A Brief History
    • Building Supers and Frames
    • Preparing Food Supplements and Medications

    2. In the Beginning

    • Receiving and Installing Bees
    • Medication
    • Releasing Queens

    3. Things are Buzzing

    • Things are Buzzin
    • The Brood Nest
    • Our Growing Hives
    • Migrating our Hives

    4. A Mid-season Break

    • Some Housekeeping
    • Packaged Bees and Queens
    • Bee Associations
    • Books and Periodicals

    Part II

    5. Diseases and Pests

    • Diseases and Pests
    • Chalbrood, Sacbrood, Moths, Tracheal Mites
    • Varroa Mites and Queenlessness

    6. It's Harvest Time

    • It's Harvest Time
    • Extracting Honey
    • Packaging and Selling Honey
    • Commercial Honey Processing

    7. Rounding Out the Year

    • Overwintering Hives
    • Overwintering and One Story Hives
    • Second Season Management
    • Fall Management

    Rounding Out the Year

    • Overwintering Hives
    • Overwintering and One Story Hives
    • Second Season Management
    • Fall Management

    Rounding Out the Year: Section 7.1: Overwintering Hives

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

    Rounding Out the Year: Section 7.2: Overwintering and One Story Hives

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

    Rounding Out the Year: Section 7.3: Second Season Management

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

    Rounding Out the Year: Section 7.4: Fall Management

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

  15. Honey Bees and Beekeeping: A Mid-season Break

    Menu


    Part I

    1. Introduction

    • A Brief History
    • Building Supers and Frames
    • Preparing Food Supplements and Medications

    2. In the Beginning

    • Receiving and Installing Bees
    • Medication
    • Releasing Queens

    3. Things are Buzzing

    • Things are Buzzin
    • The Brood Nest
    • Our Growing Hives
    • Migrating our Hives

    4. A Mid-season Break

    • Requeening
    • Queen Rearing
    • Package Production, Beekeeping Associations, Books and Periodicals 

    Part II

    5. Diseases and Pests

    • Diseases and Pests
    • Chalbrood, Sacbrood, Moths, Tracheal Mites
    • Varroa Mites and Queenlessness

    6. It's Harvest Time

    • It's Harvest Time
    • Extracting Honey
    • Packaging and Selling Honey
    • Commercial Honey Processing

    7. Rounding Out the Year

    • Overwintering Hives
    • Overwintering and One Story Hives
    • Second Season Management
    • Fall Management

    A Mid-season Break

    • Requeening
    • Queen Rearing
    • Package Production, Beekeeping Associations, Books and Periodicals 

    A Mid-season Break: Section 4.1: Requeening

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

    A Mid-season Break: Section 4.2: Queen Rearing

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

    A Mid-season Break: Section 4.3: Package Production, Beekeeping Associations, Books and Periodicals 

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

  16. Honey Bees and Beekeeping: Diseases and Pests

    Menu


    Part I

    1. Introduction

    • A Brief History
    • Building Supers and Frames
    • Preparing Food Supplements and Medications

    2. In the Beginning

    • Receiving and Installing Bees
    • Medication
    • Releasing Queens

    3. Things are Buzzing

    • Things are Buzzin
    • The Brood Nest
    • Our Growing Hives
    • Migrating our Hives

    4. A Mid-season Break

    • Requeening
    • Queen Rearing
    • Package Production, Beekeeping Associations, Books and Periodicals 

    Part II

    5. Diseases and Pests

    • Diseases and Pests
    • Chalbrood, Sacbrood, Moths, Tracheal Mites
    • Varroa Mites and Queenlessness

    6. It's Harvest Time

    • It's Harvest Time
    • Extracting Honey
    • Packaging and Selling Honey
    • Commercial Honey Processing

    7. Rounding Out the Year

    • Overwintering Hives
    • Overwintering and One Story Hives
    • Second Season Management
    • Fall Management

    Diseases and Pests

    • Diseases and pests
    • Chalbrood, sacbrood, moths, tracheal mites
    • Varroa mites and quenlessness

    Diseases and Pests: Section 5.1: Diseases and Pests

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

    Diseases and Pests: Section 5.2: Chalkbrood, Sacbrood, Moths, Tracheal Mites

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

    Diseases and Pests: Section 5.3: Varroa Mites and Queenlessness

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

  17. Honey Bees and Beekeeping: Its Harvest Time

    Menu


    Part I

    1. Introduction

    • A Brief History
    • Building Supers and Frames
    • Preparing Food Supplements and Medications

    2. In the Beginning

    • Receiving and Installing Bees
    • Medication
    • Releasing Queens

    3. Things are Buzzing

    • Things are Buzzin
    • The Brood Nest
    • Our Growing Hives
    • Migrating our Hives

    4. A Mid-season Break

    • Requeening
    • Queen Rearing
    • Package Production, Beekeeping Associations, Books and Periodicals 

    Part II

    5. Diseases and Pests

    • Diseases and Pests
    • Chalbrood, Sacbrood, Moths, Tracheal Mites
    • Varroa Mites and Queenlessness

    6. It's Harvest Time

    • It's Harvest Time
    • Extracting Honey
    • Packaging and Selling Honey
    • Commercial Honey Processing

    7. Rounding Out the Year

    • Overwintering Hives
    • Overwintering and One Story Hives
    • Second Season Management
    • Fall Management

    It's Harvest Time

    • It's Harvest Time
    • Extracting honey
    • Packaging and selling honey
    • Commercial honey processing

    It's Harvest Time: Section 6.1: It's Harvest Time

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

    It's Harvest Time: Section 6.2: Extracting Honey

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

    It's Harvest Time: Section 6.3: Packaging and Selling Honey

    Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

    It's Harvest Time: Section 6.4: Commercial Honey Processing Presented with permission of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. To purchase the complete "Honey Bees and Beekeeping" television series on DVD or accompanying book, please call 1-800-359-4040.

  18. Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae

    Nosema apis spores magnified 400X on a hemocytomer slide used for counting spores. Photo by Yuchuan Qin. Credit: Zach Huang

     

          Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae are single celled parasites of the honey bee midgut that can weaken individual bees and entire colonies, making them more susceptible to other pests and diseases, as well as affect digestion, metabolism, hormone production, queen egg laying, homing and learning. Millions of spores can be found within an individual bee and spores will persist on beekeeping equipment. Nosema apis has been well known to the beekeeping community for the last century, while Nosema ceranae, which was formerly primarily found in Apis ceranae, has recently become widespread in western honey bee colonies.

          Although knowledge is limited on N. ceranae much of the characteristics of N. apis is shared. Differentiation between the two pathogens is only possible through laboratory techniques, but the life history, transmission, and treatment is much the same. Below are articles that will describe those characteristics. 

  19. Varroa Mites
    Varroa mites as seen under a microscope. Credit: Zach Huang

          Varroa mites (Varroa destructor) are the foremost pest of western honey bee colonies. They inhabit nearly every honey bee colony in most of the world, transmit deadly viruses, shorten bee lifespan, limit productivity, and cause severe economic damage every year. Maintaining Varroa populations in the hive below the economic threshold is a primary activity of beekeepers and eradication of the pest is unlikely any time soon.

          Below are articles that detail the life cycle and biology of varroa, monitoring and treatment options, selecting for resistant stock, and impact of varroacides in the hive. 

  20. Webinars and Seminars
    A presentation at a honey bee conference. Credit:Zach Huang

          Researchers and other knowledgeable individuals commonly give presentations on their area of expertise, either at conferences or other smaller meetings. We try to record these seminars whenever possible to allow the widest audience for the presentation. Overtime some of the links to a seminar may be broken and unrecoverable, we will attempt to maintain an up-to-date list of our video content. Webinars and seminars that are recorded, archived online, and available for free can be found below. Other videos can be found on our YouTube channel.

  21. Advanced Field and Lab Techniques
    Artificial Insemination of a Honey Bee Queen. Credit: Courtesy The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright

          For the intrepid beekeeper, especially those with access to a microscope or laboratory, many diagnostic techniques are available. Investing in a decent quality microscope, particularly when shared by a beekeeping club, is a worthwhile endeavor.
          Below are methods for a few advanced techniques that may be appropriate for experienced beekeepers, while others should only be attempted by those with significant training. If these techniques are of interest but beyond the skill set of a beekeeper, training classes are available from many universities and beekeeping organizations. 

  22. Citizen Science

    The European Wool carder bee (Anthidium manicatum). Credit:Courtesy The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright

          People all over the globe are discovering that their observations and local knowledge can be valuable to researchers investigating various ecological phenomena. Natural history groups in particular are reaching out to "citizen scientists" to help them collect data and the internet has opened up a world of communication between these groups.
         Because insects are common and easily observable, many contributions can be made without specialized knowledge or equipment. Below are a few links to articles describing groups who are reaching out for support from those who can donate their time, energy, and experience towards increasing scientific understanding.

  23. Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding

    A typical queen cell cup used in queen rearing. Credit: Courtesy The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright






     

         Queen rearing is the process of inducing a colony to produce new queens by manipulating various colony attributes. This can be accomplished by any experienced beekeeper, though most beekeepers purchase new queens from well established producers. Bee breeding is the selection of desirable traits over generations of queens and is only feasible by those with long-term commitment and significant expertise. Honey bee breeding programs in the U.S. are carried out by the USDA and university researchers who then distribute their unique strains of honey bee queens to bee producers, who integrate those traits into their breeding program. 
          Because queens mate with up to 15 drones, the distribution of genes in a honey bee hive is fairly diverse. This diversity translates into desirable features like pest and disease resistance and optimal foraging strategies, however, it also makes the process of selecting desirable traits more complicated. Below are resources to help the beekeeper understand various attributes of queen rearing and bee breeding, especially emerging research on improving domestic honey bee stock.

  24. Basic Beekeeping Techniques

    Beekeeper inspecting a brood frame. Credit: The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright

          Entering the world of beekeeping can be fun and challenging: many new terms must be understood; equipment, tools, and bees purchased; seasonal management practices researched; beekeeping clubs joined; trade magazines subscribed to; classes attended; and now is the time to learn some techniques.
          Understanding the basics of colony inspection and manipulation, monitoring for pests and diseases, producing honey, and preparing for winter are crucial to success and enjoyment with beekeeping. In addition to the many books and periodicals the beekeeper should have at their disposal, the following are articles that exhibit the basics of regular beekeeping tasks.

  25. Pesticides and Honey Bee Health

    Honey bee foraging on Borage. Credit: The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright

          Pesticides are a class of chemicals or biological agent with properties designed to deter, kill, incapacitate, or otherwise limit damage by a pest. most pesticides are used to protect plants by targeting weeds, plant pathogens, insects, nematodes, or other damaging organisms. Pesticides use is widespread in modern agriculture and can be applied in many forms. The use of pesticides must follow label instructions and misuse can harm or kill a variety of non-target organisms. 
          Mitigating damage of pesticide use to honey bees is the responsibility of all parties involved and requires concerted effort to minimize the risk, especially If bees are kept in agricultural areas. The following articles will help you understand and limit the risk of honey bees to pesticide exposure.