Bee health

Bee diseases diagnosis help

The following page is intended to provide you with a quick assessment of the condition of your bee colony with the help of photos. In addition, you will find more detailed information on individual pests, as well as pictures of characteristic symptoms and features of bee diseases, parasites and pests, as well as various damage patterns on the honeycomb stock and the hives.

By clicking on the selected term, a photo gallery and further information will appear.

We will be happy to assist you with our knowledge and expertise. You can find more information on sample submission here.

Dead people

In this gallery you will find a picture overview of possible causes for the death of bee colonies.

A common cause of die-off is damage caused by the varroa mite. For more information on the varroa mite, click here.

Totes Wintervolk / Vorroaschaden
Dead winter colony - Varroa damage
Totes Wintervolk Restbrutwabe
Many Varroa mites (Varroa destructor) in residual brood and in the manure of a dead winter colony - cause of death: Varroosis.
Auswinterung / Totes Volk
Varroa damage; detected during wintering out This residual brood was full of varroa mites. The colony died of varroosis.
Totes Wintervolk / Wenig Bienen
Dead winter colony with very few bees
Totes Wintervolk / Ruhrsymptome
Dysentery symptoms in dead winter colony - The fecal stains on the top of the frames show that the dead colony was sick with dysentery.
Wabe mit Ruhrsymptomen aus totem Wintervolk
Dysentery symptoms in dead winter colony - The fecal stains on the top of the frames show that the dead colony was sick with dysentery.

Robbery

In this gallery you will find a picture overview of possible signs of predation.

Wabe / ausgeraubtes Volk
Predation - Ruptured honey cells are a typical sign of predation.
Räuberei
Predation - Roughly scraped lids of honey cells in the manure are also easily recognizable signs.
Räuberei
Predation - An uncleaned, sticky flight board is a typical sign of predation.

Brood combs

In this gallery you will find a picture overview of pests that can occur in the brood combs.

Two such pests are the American foulbrood and the sacbrood virus. You can find more information here (American foulbrood) and here (sacbrood).

Brutwabe / Gesundes Volk
For comparison first: healthy bee brood -. Typical features: Brood area closed; uncovered cells occupied by eggs or round maggots; covered cells with raised lids without holes or discoloration; cells are occupied by stretch maggots, prepupae, pupae or hatchling young bees of healthy appearance without foreign odor.
Bienenstock
Bee brood with suspected disease -. Signs of disease: Brood surface patchy; cell cover discolored, sunken, holey; cell contents decomposed, stringy, hardened, scabs, maggot, pupa, bee remains in brood cells; altered comb odor. A precise control is necessary here!
American (malignant) foulbrood - fixed scabs
American (malignant) foulbrood - recognizable by the sunken cell covers.
Faulbrut / Tote Brut
European foulbrood - Gapped brood nest, bee maggots dead before capping, twisted, collapsed and discolored lying in cell.
Sackbrut
Bag brood - brood nest patchy, cell covers may be holey, dead, discolored bee maggot in cell with discernible body segmentation and slightly bent anterior end.
Kalkbrut
Lime brood - Individual cell covers patchy, brood mummies (white, black) visible in cells.
Varroosis - Heavy varroa infestation, in combination with viruses, leads to damaged brood stages. Here the signs are patchy brood pattern and holey cell covers.

Contents of brood cells/larvae and pupae

In this gallery you will find a picture overview of pests that can occur in the contents of the brood cells or on the larvae and pupae.

Fadenziehen
If symptoms such as decomposed cell contents or threadbare, sessile scabs are observed, American foulbrood is suspected.
American (malignant) foulbrood - fixed scabs
Kalkbrut
If symptoms such as cotton wool-like or hard brood cell contents or white or gray-black colored mummies are observed, lime brood is suspected.
Tote Vorpuppe
The occurrence of numerous varroa mites on brood stages in capped brood cells is typical for the disease pattern of varroosis.
Vorroa Vorpuppe
The occurrence of numerous varroa mites on brood stages in capped brood cells is typical for the disease pattern of varroosis.
Bienen auf Wabe
Healthy brood; Open brood: bee maggots plump and shiny, well supplied with food juice, body shape easily recognizable; Covered brood: pupae with body appendages intact, no brood stages decomposed, typical brood odor.
Varroa auf Puppe
The occurrence of numerous varroa mites on brood stages in capped brood cells is typical for the disease pattern of varroosis.
Varroabefall Brutzelle Puppe
The occurrence of numerous varroa mites on brood stages in capped brood cells is typical for the disease pattern of varroosis.

Bienen

In this gallery you will find a picture overview of disease patterns on the bee.

Bienen
Healthy bees on a brood comb
Flügelkrüppelbiene
Infestation with the Deformed Wing Virus (DWV)
Krueppelbiene
Bee with varroa mite and crippled wings
Bienen / Schittenhelm
Black shiny bee with splayed wings due to movement disorders, is ill with chronic bee paralysis
If a colony is ill with chronic bee paralysis, there is often an increased death rate. Here are also the typical black-glossy bees to recognize
Tote Bienen am Gitterboden
Massive deadfall in summer, as seen here on the grid floor, is an indication of possible exposure to pesticides.
Bienen mit Pollenhöschen
Dead pollen collectors in front of the flight hole are an indication of pesticide poisoning. In this case, clothianidin and imidacloprid were detected in the bees.

Manure

In this gallery you will find an overview of images of abnormalities in the mixture and possible causes.

Gemuellebienen
Varroa mites in the manure
Varroa Gemuelle
In case of heavy varroa infestation, masses of dead, red-brown mites are found in the manure.
Kalkbrutmumien
Lime brood mummies in the manure -. Brood stages affected by lime brood emerge in the manure.
Räuberei
Predation leaves a characteristic muck in the bottom board and traces on the combs as well as the flight board.
Große Wachsmottenarve
Larvae of wax moths live on honeycombs, in comb stores and in wax muck on the bottom board of the hive, leaving a characteristic web and droppings crumbs.
Weißwasser / Bienenteile von Wespen
Wasp damage - wasps disassemble dead bees into parts.
Mäuseschaden
Mice damage - Dismantled bees after shrew feeding.

Honeycomb stock

In this gallery you will find a picture overview of pests that can occur in the honeycomb stock.

Wachsmotten / Bienen festgesponnen
Small wax moth - In case of very severe infestation, the honeycombs can also be completely destroyed by the small wax moth. The bee pupae are spun at the bottom of the brood cell and the young bees can no longer hatch.
Wachsmottenschaden
Great wax moth
Wachsmotte Falter
The large wax moth (Galleria mellonella) can completely destroy storage combs and food combs in a short time in warm conditions. This also applies to the comb of dead colonies that was not cleared away in time. Depending on the stage of infestation, characteristic spidery nests or honeycombs that have been spun together, the large wax moth larvae ("rank maggots") and white pupal cocoons can be found. These are often found in pupal cradles gnawed from the wood. When wax moth infestation is severe, a characteristic odor is noticeable in the storeroom.
Wachsmotte Groß
Great wax moth - Dense webs are typical for an infestation of honeycombs with larvae of the great wax moth. Since the eggs are partly laid on the combs already in the hive, honeycombs that are not rapidly centrifuged are also at risk.
Kleine Wachsmotte
Adult small wax moth - The larvae of the small wax moth (Achroia grisella) eat individual tunnels through the combs. In the process, tunnels lined with webs are formed. The underside of poorly cleaned wax blocks can also be eaten by the climbing maggots.
Wachsmottenkokons
Small wax moth - Doll cocoons with dark droppings
Kahlbrut
If the larvae of the small wax moth mine in the area of the center wall of brood combs, the brood is often lifted up somewhat. The so-called "tube brood" is then formed, which usually runs in the form of tunnels. If the cell covers of these galleries are removed, a rank maggot is usually found underneath. If the bees remove the cell covers above the galleries, the image of "bare brood" is formed.
Frassgänge / Wachslaibe
Wax loaf with wax moth infestation - Here, larval galleries of the small wax moth can be seen on the underside of poorly cleaned wax loaves. This area often still contains pollen remains, which are preferentially utilized by the moth larvae.

Insects in the bee colony

Various beetles and their larvae can be present in the hive. Some, like the small hive beetle, can cause severe damage. Others are harmless and only remove the debris and dead bees at the bottom of the hive.

See this image gallery for a small selection.

More information about the small hive beetle can be found here, and you can learn more about the bacon beetle here.

Bacon beetle - Other beetle species or their larvae (e.g. bacon beetle: Dermestes lardarius) participate in the removal of dead bees in the hive's hive manure.
Cychramus luteus
Cychramus luteus, a beetle native to our area, looks very similar to the small hive beetle.
Trichodes apiarius
Bee beetles - There are also some species (e.g. bee beetles or Trichodes apiarius) whose larvae live predatorily in nests of wild bees or in hives of European honey bees.
Totenkopfschwärmer
Death's-head hawkmoths - they sometimes enter the colonies as honey thieves and suck the honey directly from the combs. Otherwise, they do not cause any further damage.

We hope this small overview could help you to keep your bees healthy. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.

Last updated: 23.01.2022

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