The Small Hive Beetle (SHB) is a pest insect affecting European honey bee colonies all over the world.
They are usually about 5mm long and are dark brown or black in colour. Native to Africa, the small hive beetle has spread across the world at an alarming rate. The pest was first identified in the United States in 1996.
Varroa destructor is extremely destructive and a major factor in Colony Collapse Disorder.
Although they originally adapted to exploit Asian honey bee (Apis cerana), Varroa has more recently adapted to using the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) as its host. It feeds on the haemolymph (blood) of bee larvae and adult bees. These external parasites also spread viruses, wreaking further havoc in the hive.
The tracheal mite (Acarapis woodi) is a parasite that lives and reproduces in the trachea of European honey bees. This microscopic internal mite clogs the breathing tubes of adult EHB, blocking oxygen flow and ultimately killing them. The female mite lays eggs to the walls of the trachea, which hatch and develop to adult mites in 10-15 days. The mites parasitise bees up to two weeks old, and they pierce the tracheal tube walls in order to feed on the haemolymph.
Bees infected with the tracheal mite exhibit signs of weakness that include inability to fly and “disjointed” wings. The disease caused by this mite is known as acarine disease or acariosis.
There are two primary species of wax moths that can infest a European honey bee hive — the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella), and the lesser wax moth (Achroia grisella).
Wax moths can play a highly beneficial role in the environment because they naturally eliminate old combs after a colony abandons a hive or dies out. However, these moths can also infiltrate apiaries and cause significant damage to colonies, hives and overall honey and comb-yielding potential.
Once an infestation occurs, moths can generally be identified in both living colonies as well as stored combs. In most cases, stored combs carry a greater risk of infestation. And this infestation can render comb and honey unusable and inappropriate for sale.
Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV) is a devastating disease primarily affecting queen pupae and larvae. Caused by Cripavirus, the disease causes death in queen bee pupae and larvae with affected brood turning yellow to brown/black.
BQCV was first identified in dead queen pupae and larvae. Research studies have shown this disease to be one of the most common causes of queen larvae death throughout Australia and likely, in many other areas throughout the world. Studies also show that the disease may be linked to another parasitic infestation, Nosema apis. This disease is introduced to the colony through the gut of adult honeybees returning to the hive.
Africanised honey bees (Apis mellifera scutellata), otherwise known as ‘killer bees,’ are a subspecies of the traditional European honey bee. The result of breeding African honey bees with more docile European varieties, these bees have earned notoriety for their extreme behaviour and highly aggressive response to perceived threats. In many cases, this may simply be a person or an animal that comes too close to a hive without realising it.
The story of the killer bee began in a South American laboratory. Scientists were attempting to cross-breed African bees with the less weather-resistant European variety to help create a bee more capable of withstanding the tropical weather and creating higher honey yields.