SHB (Small Hive Beetle) Infestation


SHB (Small Hive Beetle) top VIEW

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SHB (Small Hive Beetle) Bottom VIEW

The Small Hive Beetle is an invasive pest that harms honeybee hives and damages the honeycomb, stored honey, and pollen. The bees may abandon the hive if the infestation is severe. 

Strong Healthy hives can protect against the small hive beetle (SHB) which commonly causes damage to hives that are stressed or weakened by other factors. Once a hive is destroyed or abandoned the SHB will swarm to another hive to wreak their havoc. 


When bee populations are sufficient and the SHB populations are small, the hive will be fine. In fact hive beetles are found in most every hive; however when the population of bees is insufficient or the hive is unhealthy SHB can wreak havoc. Both the larval and adult stages of the SHB prey on honeybee eggs and brood.

The feeding habits of the SHB larvae cause visual damage to bee comb as larvae tunnel through the comb leaving behind a slimy, shiny appearance in the combs; once comb is slimed the bees rarely clean it up.


The adults defecate in the honey and this introduces yeast which ferments the honey. It will be rejected by bees and is not fit for consumption. This fermentation process produces a characteristic odor of decaying oranges.



The adult beetles are easy to detect with quick visual inspections. When the hive is opened, adult beetles will be found running along the underside of the cover and on the top bars of frames. The larvae can be found in clusters in the corners of the hive or on the frames.

Prevention and Control:

  • Do not toss burr comb onto the ground.

  • Place hives where they receive direct sunlight as the beetles prefer shaded hives. 

  • Ensure your hives have plenty of ventilation.

  • Clean bottom boards regularly or use screen bottom boards so that debris doesn't build up and provide prime pupating habitat for the SHB.

  • Saturate the ground around your hives with Diatomaceous Earth which will cut up the larvae as they hatch below your hives.

    • Alternatively, you may apply the beneficial nematode, Heterorhabditis indica, to the soil beneath and around the bee hives. 

  • Put balls of Poly-Fill in all corners of your hive; as the bees chase the beetles they will get caught and die in the fibers.

Most of all keep strong healthy hives and allow your bees to naturally control the small hive beetles.

[SHB] Small Hive Beetle


Varroa Mites

Varroa is one of the biggest problems in today’s beekeeping industry; proper understanding of them and the ability to identify the symptoms can help us effectively fight them.Varroa Mites are small, reddish-brown tick like pests that are not easily seen by the human eye. On the adult bees you will find them embedded in the lower side of the thorax.  Varroa Mites attack the strongest hives in your apiary first and without treatment can wipe out all of your hives. Recent research by Dr. Samuel Ramsey has proven that the Varroa Mite feeds on the fat bodies of the Honey Bees NOT Hemolymph (blood).


  • Spotty Brood (can also be from a poor queen)

  • Deformed wings

  • Frequent spotting of mites on top of bees and in brood

  • Unexplained healthy hives losses or absconding

How it Spreads

  • Robbing

  • Foraging

  • Drifting


  • Alcohol Wash will give you a good mite count

  • In today's environment all hives have mites 



  • Today's treatment of choice is Oxalic Acid (OA), which is a natural element of honey. This treatment is very effective and safe to use. It is most effective during broodless periods, as it does not kill the mites under the brood. If treating during brood cycles, multiple treatments are required. It is very effective for high mite counts as it kills immediately and continues to kill for 4 days.

    • Apply (for the dribble method) 10mL per seam of bees. During times of brood production this treatment can be used and applied once a week for three weeks to adequately cover the brood hatching cycles. It will usually bring the mite count down to a reasonable number. 

    • OA Vaporization method requires an OA Vaporization Wand and proper precautions must be taken during application; although it is the accepted best method of treatment.


Varroa Mite on Bee Larvae

Varro Mite on Bee.jpg

In this colorized image of a honey bee, taken via low-temperature scanning electron microscope, a Varroa mite (arrow) can be seen tucked between the bee’s abdominal segments. (Photo credit: USDA-ARS, Electron and Confocal Microscopy Unit, Beltsville, MD)

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Wax Moths

The adult wax moth has a body length that is usually ½ to ¾ inch long.  Its wings vary in color from brown to gray to black, with a light gray color on the underside and are held in a roof-like position when at rest.  The larvae are white once hatched, but overtime gradate into a dark gray color with a white underside and a brown head capsule.  These larvae can reach a length of 1 inch.  Adult moths enter hives at dusk to lay their eggs in masses.  Once hatched, the larvae hide in the comb and feed on pollen, wax, and honey stores.  The larvae pupate in hive and attach their silk cocoon to the side, creating large gouges in the wood.


Maintaining a strong queen-right hive is the best defense against the wax moth and its larva.  Place any infected comb in a freezer to kill the larvae and eggs.  ParaMoth can be used during storage of frames and boxes.  Do not substitute ordinary moth balls for ParaMoth as the chemicals in store bought moth balls may harm the bees. When storing supers, crisscross their stacking and expose them to light to deter wax moths from inhabiting them.

There are currently two known species of wax moth that occupy and damage honey bee colonies. Each one has four stages of development: egg; larva; pupa; and adult. The greater wax moth, Galleria mellonella is the more destructive and common pest whilst the lesser wax moth, Achroia grisella is both less prevalent and less destructive. Wax moth infestations are caused by unhygienic management practices; leaving scraps of burr comb lying around the apiary and empty and exposed supers or brood boxes with drawn comb in will attract moths. When the equipment is left over a long period of time, this gives ample opportunity for infestations of wax moth to get out of control. Drawn comb can become damaged and eaten away, making in unworkable for colonies of honey bees.

Although considered a minor pest, wax moths can cause damage to beekeeping equipment and to stored comb. They are a particular problem for colonies that are weak or diseased. Beekeepers are encouraged to keep strong and prolific colonies so which are better able to defend against infestations.


Females deposit eggs into crevasses and gaps within the hive where they remain out of reach of nursing bees. Once the larvae hatch, they immediately search for comb in which to feed. The thoracic legs are immediately visible and well developed and as the larva feeds and grows they develop, the abdominal legs become more prominent after around 3 days old. Speed of growth is directly dependent on temperature and food supply. Under ideal conditions the larval weight can double daily during the first 10 days.

A greater wax moth larva molts 7 times throughout its development. Most of the growth and size increase happens during the final 2 in-stars. Larval development lasts 6-7 weeks at 29° - 32° C and high humidity. As the greater wax moth larva matures, it will reach a length of around 20 mm and its body will turn grey in color with a brown pro-thoracic shield having a broad band across it.

Mature greater wax moth larvae bore into wood and often make boat-shaped indentations in the hive body or frames. After finding a place in the hive to pupate, the larva begins spinning a silk thread cocoon, which they attach to the excavated indentations. The development stage of greater wax moths varies from 6 to 55 days, depending on factors such as temperature. 

Adult moths  reach a length of 15 mm long with a 31 mm average wingspan. The wings are grey in color but the hind third of the wing, normally hidden, is bronze colored.

Damage to colonies

The larvae of both species cause damage to comb by feeding on the wax, though they cannot survive on wax alone; larvae fed on pure bees wax have been shown to stop developing. They rely on other impurities within the wax - particularly cocoons in old brood combs. One obvious sign of a wax moth infestation is a white silk trail left by burrowing larvae moving below the cappings of honey bee brood.  In extreme cases the whole of the comb will be destroyed, leaving a matted mass of silk, frass and other debris.

Mature greater wax moth larvae bore into woodwork and often make boat-shaped indentations in brood boxes, supers, crownboards and frames. After finding a place to pupate, the larva begins spinning silk threads to make the cocoon, which can be seen attached to the excavated indentations. On close inspection, one will find large amounts of cocoons congregated in areas around the periphery of the bee nest.

Good strong colonies will not usually tolerate infestation by wax moth and it is not usually a problem in the field in healthy colonies. However, it is a problem in either weak colonies or hives where colonies have died or in stored combs.  In the field hives should be kept as strong and healthy as possible, combs should not be left lying around the apiary and dead colonies should be removed as this will attract wax moths (basic apiary hygiene!).  Lightly infested boxes may be placed on strong colonies to clean out, but heavily infested combs cannot be effectively treated and should be burned.  In the apiary store it is possible to use B401 - a preparation of Bacillus thuringensis to treat the combs. 

Are there other species of wax moth?

The moth, Aphomia sociella is known as the “bee moth” and is very similar to the greater wax moth. The body and fore-wings are a reddish brown and the fore-wing of the female moth, has a distinct dark spot on it. This sub-species is attracted by the scent of bumble bee and wasp species nests, feeding on the waste products of the larvae, as well as dead adults. Larvae reach 24–30 mm in length and become distinctly yellow in color. They create tunnels of silken thread throughout the nest and as a result, bumble bees may abscond their nest during high infestations.

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American Foulbrood

[AFB] American Foulbrood is caused by a spore forming bacterium called Paenibacillus larvae. These spores are the infective stage of the disease and infection begins when food contaminated with spores are fed to larvae by the nurse bees. Once in the gut of the larva the spores germinate, bacteria move into the larval tissues, where they multiply enormously. Infected larvae normally die after the cell is sealed and millions of infective spores form in the larval remains. P. larvae spores remain viable for many years and are very resistant to extremes of hot and cold and to many disinfectants.

  • The most serious disease a hive can have

  • Spore forming

  • The vegetative stage infects larvae

  • It grows for about ten days and then turns into a spore

  • 2.5 billion spores can exist in one (AFB) scale

It takes only about 10 spores fed to a one day old larvae for it to become infected 




  • Irregular brood pattern (shotgun appearance)

  • Many cells are left open among capped brood

  • Perforated, sunken, sometimes greasy looking wet capped cells

  • Foul odor

  • Discolored larvae

  • Dried out scales adhere to lower cell walls

  • Pupal tongue may be present

  • Larvae die upright

  • Scales are difficult to remove


How it Spreads

  • Robbing behavior

  • Infected equipment

  • Drifting

  • Infected honey and pollen

  • Swarm     



  • Rosiness test-- take a toothpick stir it into a sick larvae and if it stretches out like glue it is most likely (AFB)

  • Foulbrood test kit


  • Terramycin and Tylan powder kills the vegetative stage but not the spores!!!

  • Lye bath and Paraffin dipping are both options but there is a risk of reinfection

  • Ethylene oxide kills the spores but few states still approve it. (it is known as a cancer causing chemical and doesn’t kill the spores in honey)

  • Gamma Radiation (impractical)

  • Put the bees on knew equipment, requeen, and feed or spray with a medicated syrup

  • BURNING is the most effective treatment. Kill the bees with soapy water at night. And them burn them. Then Burn the infected equipment and bury it.

European Foul brood

[EFB] European Foul-Brood is caused by the bacterium Melissococcus plutonius. Larvae become infected by consuming contaminated food fed by the nurse bees. The bacteria multiply within the larval gut, competing with it for food. They remain in the gut and do not invade larval tissue; larvae that die from the disease do so because they have been starved of food. This normally occurs shortly before the cells are capped.

European Foul brood is far easier to cure than American foulbrood;

that said EFB is also more prevalent in hives as compared to American foulbrood.

  • Non-spore forming!!!

  • Easier to cure

  • Infests worker, drone, and queen larvae

  • Prevalent in the spring



  • Weak colonies

  • Stressed colonies due to poor foraging

  • Being trucked for pollination 



  • Larvae are discolored and die in twisted coiled positions

  • Dead brood is mostly uncapped

  • Discolored concave cappings

  • Sour odor may be present

  • Dead larvae aren't ropy

  • Scales are easy to remove


  • Terramycin

  • FEEDING sugar and pollen!!!

  • Requeening with better stock and breaking the brood cycle 

  • Strong nectar flow


  • Foulbrood test kit

​European Foul Brood will occasionally be ropey. This symptom is not always present.​

Sac Brood is a viral disease. Adult nurse bees clean infected brood cells and, in turn, contract the virus.


  • Dead brood positioned upright in cells, their bodies a dark white, grey, or brownish-black color with the uppermost portion(head) darker than the rest of the body.

How it Spreads

  • Infected equipment

  • Moving infected combs to uninfected hives

  • Drifting/Robbing



  • Requeening

  • Feeding pollen and syrup

  • Moving colonies to a sunny location



To help prevent Sac Brood, always sterilize your equipment after working someone else's bees. Requeen every 1-2 years. Maintaining strong colonies and treating for pests namely, Varroa, will greatly reduce the stress on a colony and help it fight off disease.

Chalk Brood


  • White, Gray, and Black mummies in brood cells, at the entrances, and on bottom boards

  • Often found after cool, damp weather

How it Spreads

  • Infected equipment

  • Infected pollen

  • Moving infected combs to uninfected hives

  • Drifting/Robbing



  • Feeding Sugar Syrup and Pollen

  • Requeening

  • Increasing ventilation (screened bottom boards)

  • Moving colonies to sunny dry locations

  • Replacing old and diseased comb


To help prevent Chalk brood, always sterilize your equipment after working someone else bees. Requeen every 1-2 years. Maintaining strong colonies and treating for pests, namely Varroa, will greatly reduce the stress on a colony and help it fight off diseases

Nosema is a fungus that affects adult bees. With the correct treatment colonies will respond favorably. Nosema is most prevalent in colonies that are stressed, shipped in a package or confined. 


The symptoms of Nosema are rather subtle.

  • Crawling disoriented bees

  • K-wing adults

  • Defensive bees

  • Bees abandoning the brood to cluster elsewhere

  • Colonies not consuming supplemental feed

  • Mid-gut is swollen and creamy white in color

  • Heave concentration of Bee feces at hive entrances, top bars, inner walls, and on other items in their apiary.

Note: Dysentery can also be caused by poor quality food stores, confinement, and feed with heavy concentration of impurities in it.

How it Spreads

  • Infected Equipment

  • Robbing Bees Drifting

  • Infected Food Stores or pollen



Their are no registered treatments for Nosema


The most effective control of the disease relies on maintaining strong hives and taking precautions to reduce the build-up of the disease. Maintain strong, healthy hives and make sure the appropriate nutrition is available to bees. Using young queens, removing old comb will help  keep colonies strong and remove possible causes of stress, which can make the colony more susceptible to the disease.

It is also good practice to try and avoid moving hives, or inspecting hives during winter, as inspections and movements at this time can increase the stress levels within the colony. When getting hives ready for winter, always ensure that there are not excess boxes on the hive, as well as ensure that there is enough good quality honey and pollen for the colony. If there is not, consider feeding a protein rich pollen supplement and sugar feeding.