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Pests and diseases

The most common pests in Devon seem to be:


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Common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) eating the intenstines of a drone honeybee.

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Bee Diseases


Notifiable Diseases and Pests of Bees in England (defra)


American foul brood (AFB) (Paenibacillus larvae var. larvae) is a bacterial disease of honey bees. Affects only the sealed brood. Symptoms include 'pepperpot' comb (random empty cells), an upleasant smell (decaying larvae), sunken and discoloured cappings. Scales of dried bacteria are usually visible. Diagnosis is made using the 'rope' test (shown right) and the Regional Bee Inspector will do an LFD testing kit. All colonies found infected with American foul brood are compulsorily destroyed and affected apiaries are placed under the conditions of a Standstill Notice prohibiting movement of bees or equipment.


European foul brood (EFB) (Melissococcus plutonius) is a bacterial disease of honey bees. Mainly affects the unsealed brood. Infected larvae move within the cells and assume a twisted unnatural appearance in death. Bees usually attempt to remove infected larvae from the hive. Dead larvae can appear 'melted' and yellowish-brown. Diseased apiaries are placed under the conditions of a Standstill Notice prohibiting movement of bees or equipment. Diagnosis will be made by the Regional Bee Inspector using an LFD testing kit. Lightly infected colonies are treated with an antibiotic by an authorised bee inspector, although the shook swarm technique without antibiotic is increasingly being applied. Colonies that are considered to be too weak or too heavily infected are destroyed.


Small hive beetle (SHB) (Aethina tumida) commonly known as SHB, is an exotic pest of European honey bees. The beetle is indigenous to Africa where it is considered a minor pest of honey bees, and until recently thought restricted to that continent. However, in 1998 it was discovered in the USA, where its occurrence is now widespread, and in 2002, the beetle was also found in Australia and Canada. The beetle is exotic to the European Community, but is a serious threat to the sustainability of European apiculture. The beetle is 5-7mm and black with clubbed antenae and tends to hide from the light. Larvae not to be confused with Wax Moth which has legs all along its body like a caterpillar. Read more on the latest news


Tropilaelaps (Tropilaelaps spp) are potential new threats to European beekeeping. There are known to be at least two species of the mites, Tropilaelaps clareae and Tropilaelaps koenigerum. They are native to Asia and have spread from their original host, the giant honey bee, Apis dorsata, to the European honey bee, Apis mellifera. The mites are exotic to the European Community but are notifiable throughout. These parasites are about 1.8 x .06mm. Their life-cycle and treatment are similar to the Varroa mites.


If you suspect any of these diseases:

Other Pests and Diseases

Other diseases and pests of bees:

Asian Hornet Danger!


As you know there is a great threat that the Asian Hornet may arrive in the UK in the near future.


In France, Spring trapping of the young queen hornets has been found to be an effective way to reduce the number of Asian Hornet nests.


Please take a moment to read about the Asian Hornet Trap [shown to the right]


Best wishes

Adam Vevers,


Further reading:


Invasion! Beware the killer hornet

Read more...

Beecraft Asian Hornet Report Oct 2011

Free download...

[posted January 2012]

click here to download Fera information pamphlet on Foul Brood

click here to download Fera information factsheet on SHB

click here to download Fera information factsheet on Tropilaelaps

click here to download Fera information factsheet on Varroa

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Deformed Wing Virus - usually indicative of Varroa infestation

Click here for free download...

The National Bee Unit is the home of the web based database of beekeepers in England and Wales.

The National Bee Unit is the home of the web based database of beekeepers in England and Wales.

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Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing kit to diagnose Foul Brood (available from the Regional Bee Inspector or direct from Vita

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Small Hive Beetle larva 10-11mm in length, 3 pairs of prolegs on front.

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Adult Varroa mite on pupa (above) and on the thorax of a drone (below)

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