Advice on Bee Health

Honey bees, pests and diseases


Honey bees contribute directly to sustainable local food production and more broadly, through pollination, to crop production. They are susceptible to pests and diseases, which have increased significantly in the UK over the last 5 to 10 years. Current widespread risks include American Foulbrood and European Foulbrood, varroa mites and associated viruses. Colony losses due to varroa infestation have increased since 2001. This is a result of the mites’ developing resistance to available pyrethroid varroacides and the limited alternative treatments. Potential exotic risks include the small hive beetle, parasitic brood mites (Tropilaelaps species) and undesirable species such as the Asian hornet. The management of pests and diseases in hives to the lowest levels achievable, in particular through integrated pest management, is needed in order to reduce the risk of further spread to nearby apiaries. It is also necessary to sustain the role of honey bees in pollinating crops and to minimise lost honey production.


Bees with varroa mites

Bees with Varroa mites. Source: Bee Culture

The health of bees is concerned with anything that potentially harms honey bees, including bacteria, viruses, arachnids (e.g. mites), insects, fungi and other pathogens, which cause disease or feed on bees, as well as adverse effects caused by other threats, such as undesirable species that prey on colonies, the misuse of pesticides and the impact of climate change.

Source: Defra ‘Healthy Bees Protecting and improving the health of honey bees in England and Wales March 2009’







The aim of these pages is to signpost where beekeepers (or those interested in becoming beekeepers who want to know a bit more on what is involved in keeping bees) can find information about bee pests and diseases.



Key Resource – BeeBase


Beebase leaflets

BeeBase Advice for New Beekeepers

Beebase How do I manage Varroa

BeeBase Foulbrood Disease of Honey Bees

BeeBase How to spot American Foul Brood (AFB)?

BeeBase How to spot European Foul Brood (EFB)?


Government advice on bee health

Honey bees: protecting them from pests and diseases


Information on identifying bee brood diseases and adult bee pests, diseases and disorders

A guide to the field diagnosis of honey bee brood diseases


The National Bee Unit: Common Pests, Diseases and Disorders of the Adult Honey Bee (PDF download)


Asian Hornet


We have had a page on the Asian Hornet on this website for a while now.


Notifiable Diseases and Pests


The notifiable diseases and pests of Honey Bees which you are required to report by law, are:


American and European Foulbrood – see links above

Tropilaelaps mites

Small Hive Beetle

Asian Hornet


Regional Bee Inspector


If you believe that you have a notifiable disease you should immediately contact your Regional Bee Inspector. The one that covers you area can be found on BeeBase here.