Disease of honey bees:Apiculture

Disease of honey bees:-

There are is diverse found of honey bees occurring in India. Although seven species of Apis have been described but in India four species of Apis are of major important. These includes two wild species Apis dorsata and Apis florea and two domesticated species Apis melifera and Apis cerena.

Like all other living creatures honey bees also suffer from several disease and are attacked by different honey bees. They disease in brood and adult are caused by Bacteria, fungi, virus and protozoa. These have two distinct life forms brood and adult and most disease are specific together one stage.

A brief account of various disease and their management is described below:-

(a) Brood disease

(b) Adult bee disease


(a) Brood disease:-

These are generally earlier to recognize as a group then Adult disease but more different to control. These are either cause by bacteria, fungi or virus.

  1. Bacterial disease:-

The bacterial disease of the broods are described below:-

American fowl brood disease (AFBD) :-

*It’s caused by spore forming bacterium patri bacillus larvae. In temperate and sub tropical region. It’s the most virulent brood disease as if produces heat and resistance spores which can capable of surviving for more than 35years and germinal as and other get the favourable conditions.

*Dauth of an infected larva takes place after the shell has been shield and cocoon has been spun.

  • Symptoms:-


  • A death the disease larva change from a  normal a pearly white colour to a creamy brown then gradually darkness.
  • The decompose brood has  an unpleasant smail.
  • When a match stick is thrust into the shell of the decompose pupa, it draw out a ropy threads of several ans in length.
  • The brood comb an affected colony become pathely in apperance.
  • At the larva dries up, it becomes dark brown or black.

European fowl Brood Disease (EFBD) :-

It caused by the non -spore forming bacterium which in the might gut 4-5 days of old larva and multiple rapidly causing death sometimes the infected larva does not due until it’s shield and this may results shrumken and perforated copping.


  • Infected larva move about inside the shell instead of staying  in the normal curled position. As a result the died larva is found in  an un- natural coiled position across the mouth of it’s shell. Dead larva become soft, waterly and dull yellow. The affected larva are discoloured 1st creamy yellow then turned to light brown and then dark brown & occasionally black.
  • Dead larvae finally dry to become brown, removal rubbery scales at the bottom at the cell brood pattern become irregular.
  • The bacterium may not cause any odour in infected colonial. However, secondary invation by other bacterium would results in a sour to fowl smell.

Spread of bacterial Disease:-

  • The disease spread through inter colony substitute of bees, brood, queen &pollen or food reserve from infected colony to healthy colony.
  • Drifting of the bees among the colonies in the apiary.
  • Use of contaminated equipment in the healthy colonies.
  • Rubbing among the colonies.


  • Sterilize the combs and other hive parts with formalin at the rate of 150ml/1 litre water for 48hours at 43°c in fumigation chamber.
  • Sterilize the combs with ethylene oxide 1gm/litre for 48hours at 43°c in fumigation chamber burning.
  • Burning of colonies including swarm shock couple with provisioning of other brood along or brood plus pollen.
  • Breeding disease resistance strain of bees is one of the best measure for the disease management.

2.Fungal disease:-

Following two fungal disease are important:

  • Chalk brood
  • Stone brood

Chalk brood:-

This disease caused by spore forming fungus ascosphaera Apis which remain viable for years. It’s a less severe disease. It affected only the brood but workers, drones and queen are suitable to this disease.


  • Disease larva are stretched out in their cells in an upright position, larva does from chalk brood disease are chalk white and are often covered with cottony filament hence, the name chalk brood.
  • Sometimes in the disease larvae the white coloration may eventually give away black or grey depending on the life stage of the fungus.
  • A chalk brood disease larvae are loose in the cell and can be removed easily and can be visible the ground at the entrance of the hive.

Stone Brood:-

This disease is caused by aspergillus flavus which caused mumification of the brood of a honey bee colony.


The following symptoms are found in stone brood:-

  • It’s  spore are ingested with food and germinate in the gut, growing rapidly to form a collar like ring near the head.
  • After death of the larva, the larva turned black and become the facial to crush, hence the name is stone brood. The affected adult basses show restless and paralysis, abdomen gets dilated and then mumified.
  • Young bees die earlier.

Management of fungal disease:-

  • Removal of mumies by bees, results in natural control of disease.
  • Collected and burn the mumified larvae.
  • Improve ventilation and humidity.
  • Replace queen with stoke breeds for hygiene behavior and disease resistance.

3.Viral disease:-

The following viral disease are found in honey bees.

Sae brood virus (SBV) & thai sae brood virus (TSBV) :-

  • TSBV is a virulent disease of SBV of Apis melifera Disease symptoms of diagnosis of both of the symptoms are similar but SBV is infective on Apis cerena and TSBV infects Apis melifera.


  • Larva in late stage or near cell shielding or peru die  . It body stretch.
  • Copping are shrunken and brood is patchy. But sometimes the infected larva does not have cell copping.
  • Dead larva remain up right on the cell. It’s skin become tough and colour change to pall yellow to brown.
  • Head and thorax region are darker. Dry scales are boat shaped.

Colonic bee paralysis:-

This disease also celled hairless black bee syndrome. The causal viral particles are irregular in shape.


  • Bee become hairless, shiny and small.
  • Bee have uncompleted wings.
  • Trembling and jerky movement.
  • Dead bees are seen in front of the hive entrance.

Management of viral disease:-

The management of viral disease are as follows:-

  • For viral pathogens there is no chemical contract.
  • Affected colonies should be isolated beyond their flight range.
  • Provide proper ventilation to reduce humidity .
  • Cage of the queen for a week and than requeen .
  • Use sterilize equipments.
  • Provide supliment feeding.
  • Selective breeding for natural resistance.

Adult bee Disease:

This disease of the adult bees are caused by protozoa. Which forms spores or cyst. Protozoa are perfect parasites which caused dysentery as they do not kill the imidiatly.

The following are the disease of the adult honey bees:-


  • This disease is caused by Nosema Apis. This disease is the Adult bees parasites all the cost.
  • Pathogen & they are multiply in epithelial cell and it check RNA synthesis in the host cell. It’s spores are shed in the lumen of the digestive track of the affected bee and are excreted out. One affected bee may contain 180 million spores. Infection spread through ingestion of foucal matter with contaminated food.


  • This start foraging at younger age.
  • Abdomen is distended with faccal matter.
  • Body hair are lost and bees become shiny.
  • Bees feed fatigue and are less able to fly and fall down during the return journey.
  • Mid intestines is swollen.


  • Provide fresh running water and drain off stagnant water from the apiary.
  • White transporting queens, selling healthy attendant bees.
  • Provide upward ventilation to reduce humidity disin fect the empty hives with ethylene oxide 120ml per hive.
  • Feed fumagillin in cone syrup.

Amoeba disease:-

  • The caused by malpigh amoeba melifera.
  • This infection is caused by ingesting the cyst with containnated food. Amoeba multiple by binary fission and forms it 18-28 days of ingection . Cyst accumulate in the midget and set into the intestine. These are excreted out by the faccal matter.


  • Ensure proper hygiene conditions.
  • Disinfection of hives and equipment with acetic acid.
  • Sarp off the bottom board and disinfect it with 2% carbolic acid.


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