Honey Bee Diseases and Pests.


Bear trap

Bear damages to property and livestock remain high in frequency and severity. 

In 2010, 31 bears were euthanized for Category I behavior. Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) personnel captured 20 Category II bears at nuisance sites, applying aversive conditioning techniques to the released bears, and captured an additional 29 non-target bears at nuisance sites. In a study of the

effectiveness of aversive conditioning on nuisance bears, DFW found that all bears, regardless of being conditioned or not, returned to urban settings within 17 days of treatment or capture.

Other visitors




Skunks are common predators of bees, they can decimate a large colony in a few nights. Symptoms are very angry bees, scratches on the front of the hives, dig and scratch on the ground in front of hives. Skunk's feces are mostly composed of bee parts and can be found around the hives. I only saw a possom once eating dead bees under a hive.

Colony Collapse

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon in which bees from a   colony abruptly disappear. The mechanisms of CCD and the reasons for its increasing prevalence remain unclear. Many possible causes have been proposed: pesticides, primarily neonicotinoids; infections with varroa mites; malnutrition; various pathogens; genetic factors; immunodeficiencies; loss of habitat; changing beekeeping practices; or a combination of factors.

Wax moths

Wax moths will not attack the bees directly. They enter weak or dead hives; lay eggs developping in waxworms who feed on the wax used by the bees to build their honeycomb.


American Foul Brood (AFB), caused by a spore (Paenibacillus), is the most widespread and destructive of the bee diseases. Lab testing is necessary for definitive diagnosis, but a good field test is to touch a dead larva with a toothpick or twig. It will be sticky and "ropey". Foulbrood also has a characteristic odor, and experienced beekeepers with a good sense of smell can often detect the disease upon opening a hive. Because of the persistence of the spores (which can survive up to 40 years), many State Apiary Inspectors require an AFB diseased hive to be burned completely. A less radical method of containing the spread of disease is burning the frames and comb and thoroughly flame scorching the interior of the hive body, bottom board and covers.


Bad weather
Bear visits

Bear complaint calls are received by DFW's Wildlife Control Unit and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). DFW Wildlife Control personnel provide response and control using the Black Bear Rating and Response Criteria.

Electric fences

When you're in bear country, you need a serious deterrent to honey theft by hungry inhabitants. Electric fence is a good protection for your hives but is not 100% bear proof.


Mice can do a lot of damage inside a bee hive. They chew combs and frames but also pee and poop all over.


Varroa mites

Varroa mites are recognised as the biggest pest to honeybees worldwide, and are believed to be the single largest contributing factor in the modern-day decline of honeybees, due to their ability to transmit diseases such as deformed wing virus to larval and/or pupating bees, resulting in death or severe deformity of the pupae.



The most notable symptom is dysentery. This appears as yellow stripes on the outside of the hive and in severe cases, inside the hive. Nosema spores are spread to other colony members through fecal matters. The disease impairs the digestion of pollen, thereby shortening the life of the bee.



A common mistake for beekeepers is to assume, too soon, that the bees have made it through the winter.  Sadly this is not always true. Brood rearing can start in the late winter, and if the weather has a cold snap, the bees will not leave the brood, even though there may be food in a short distance away. Bee starvation can happen because there is not enough food to get them through the winter. This can happen if the beekeeper has taken too much honey off a hive, and/or has not fed the bees enough sugar syrup in the fall, it can also happen for no discernible reason at all. In New Jersey a bee colony needs +/- 60lb of honey to survive the winter. 


Bee behavior is affected by weather and location. They rarely work when the temperature is below 57F or above 100F. On very hot days, bees cluster outside unshaded hives and do not work. However, too much shade in the summer makes bees irritable. Windbreaks provide some protection from cold winter winds.