American foulbrood (AFB) is the most serious, contagious bacterial disease of honeybee brood of international proportion. It is caused by a virulent spore-forming bacterium, Paenibacillus larvae subsp. larvae. AFB can appear and spread quickly through a colony and if left untreated may result in the rapid death of the hive.
European foulbrood (EFB) is a serious, bacterial disease of honeybee brood and is found throughout the world. Its appears to be increasing and there is considerable pressure from beekeepers to improve EFB control. EFB is sometimes not regarded as such an important disease as American foulbrood, but the two are often confused or mis-diagnosed.
Chalkbrood, a disease that can kill honeybee larvae, is caused by a fungus, Ascophaera apis. It occurs worldwide, but is most serious in some warmer climates.
Nosema apis is a long-established pathogen of the western honeybee and often causes dysentery reducing the lifespan of bees. A new variant, Nosema ceranae, was first identified on the western honeybee in Spain in 2004 and has been associated with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in the USA and Europe.
The small hive beetle, Athina tumida, is a native of South Africa but is now being found in different parts of the world where it is causing great damage by destroying and contaminating colonies.
The parasitic mite Acarapis woodi causes Acarine disease in honeybees by infesting the breathing tunes (tracheae) of the adult bee, piercing the trachea wall and feeding on the bee haemolymph.
Globally, the varroa mite, Varroa destructor, is the most serious threat to the western honeybee. Varroa is a parasite that feeds on the bee and acts as a vector for viruses. Untreated, colonies will die in just a few years. Varroa is thought to be at the core of unexplained bee losses (Colony Collapse Disorder) across the world.
Viruses are commonly present in any honeybee colony. However infection of honeybees and the appearance of disease symptoms seems to depend to a large extent on other stress factors on the colony, such as lack of space, food or water, weather or infection by other means be they bacterial, fungal or mite.
The greater wax moth, Galleria mellonella, and lesser wax moth, Achroia grisella, are estimated to cause more than $5 million worth of damage a year in the USA alone. Its larvae feed on impurities in wax, pollen and even bee larvae and they can destroy comb very rapidly. Damage is most frequently found in stored comb, but weak colonies can also succumb.