Healthy Bees: Managing pests, diseases and other disorders of the honey bee: AgGuide - A Practical Guide

· NSW Agriculture

About this ebook

The aim of this book is to provide bee-keepers with a guide to the common pests and diseases of bees.

Healthy Bees covers seasonal factors that affect the health of the colony, nutrition, non-infectious disorders, diseases, exotic pests, and strategies to prevent them.

Clear photographs to help you recognise and identify pests and diseases, and videos demonstrate collecting samples from your hive.




CHAPTER 1: The honey bee


Lifecycle of the honey bee

Castes of bees and their roles in the colony



Sex hormones in the hive

CHAPTER 2: Colony size


Colony size varies with seasons

Nectar flow and brood rearing

Managing bees in winter

Managing bees in spring

CHAPTER 3: Nutrition

Food for bees

Feeding sugar to honey bees

Plants as poisons

CHAPTER 4: Effects of seasons and location



CHAPTER 5: Disease and disorder

Health of bees is important

Non-infectious disorders

Causes of disease

CHAPTER 6: Strategies to prevent disease

Be alert

Inspect the hive

Comb replacement program

Barrier system

Best practice

CHAPTER 7: Diseases of the honey bee brood

American foulbrood

European foulbrood



Kashmir bee virus

Black queen cell virus

Prepare a larval smear for diagnosis

CHAPTER 8: Diseases of adult honey bees

Nosema disease

Chronic bee paralysis virus (CBPV)

CHAPTER 9: Hive pests

Small hive beetle (SHB)

Wax moth

Other pests

CHAPTER 10: Exotic pests

Varroa mite

Sugar shaking to detect external parasites

Tracheal mite

Tropilaelaps mite

Predatory hornets

Large hive beetles

CHAPTER 11: Surveillance and response to exotic pests and disease


Response to surveillance alert

CHAPTER 12: Honey bees and the law


Beekeeper registration

Abandoned or neglected hives

The legal requirement to notify

Biosecurity Code of Practice

Bonus Chapter: Testing for Hygienic Behaviour

Liquid Nitrogen-Killed Brood Test

Appendix 1: Glossary

Appendix 2: The pollen story

Not all pollen is equal

No pollen and the colony dies

Pollen substitutes

Sugar syrup, brood rearing, pollen foraging


Appendix 3: Competencies supported by this publication

About the author

Doug Somerville is employed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries as a Technical Specialist for Honey Bees. He has over 25 years experience assisting bee keepers and honey producers with

·      best management practices in keeping honey bees;

·      seasonal management enquiries;

·      disease/pest management processes;

·      starting out in bees;

·      progressing from an amateur beekeeper to a business in keeping bees.

Doug Somerville has beekeeping experience in the United Kingdom and Canada and has been a guest speaker at several international conferences. He also manages over 100 hives himself for research, honey production and pollination.


Jennifer Laffan has written many publications and training resources for the NSW Department of Primary Industries, including others in the AgSkills series.


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