Bees like any other species are subject to infectious agents, which are often carried by mites. The pathogen load in managed bee colonies is heavy, and with changing environmental conditions bee management practices that were applicable years ago may no longer be relevant.

Human history is rife with examples of how society became debilitated by disease and how changes in health management caught up with the new challenges. For example, viral outbreaks caused widespread death before vaccination was introduced. Devastating bacterial diseases have been kept in check by hygiene practices such as public sanitation and hand washing, and the introduction of antibiotics. Our relationship with bees is at a similar point in the evolution of management practices today. The main honey bee pests and pathogens include:


  • Acute Bee Paralysis Virus (ABPV)
  • Israel Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) – associated with CCD
  • Kashmir Bee Virus (KBV)
  • Deformed Wing Bee Virus (DWV)
  • Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV)
  • Chronic Paralysis Virus (CPV)
  • Sacbrood Virus (SBV)


  • Paenibacillus larvae – American Foul Brood
  • Melissococcus pluton – European Foul Brood


  • Varroa destructor – Varroa infestation
  • Acarapis woodi – Tracheal mites
  • Aethina tumida – Small hive beetle
  • Galleria mellonella – Waxworm

Varroa infestations are now common in the United States due to global bee shipping and the lack of genetic diversity in commercially bred colonies, which provide channels for varroa proliferation.