Category Archives: Disease

Hooper’s Five Questions

Ted Hooper’s five questions – as described in his book ‘Guide to Bees and Honey’ were devised to walk the beekeeper through his or her weekly inspections. The first 5 columns in the Colony Assessment Sheet are there for you record the answers.

Take a look at this frame of bees above – yes there are several things there that should put you on alert!

What you do, or don’t do, in response is the essence of beekeeping. Continue reading Hooper’s Five Questions

Summer Oxalic Acid Varroa Treatment

Oxalic Acid

Oxalic acid is a very effective treatment for Varroa but only during broodless periods when the kill rate can be above 90%. When brood is present the kill rate is closer to 30% as most of the Varroa are in the brood where this acid cannot reach them. Click here for more on oxalic acid.

For this reason oxalic acid tends to be used during the mid-winter broodless period – if there is one!

However,  winter is not the only time bees are broodless and oxalic acid can also be used during summer broodless periods when the Varroa are phoretic (out and about on the bees).

Summer Treatment

Imagine a swarm…

Continue reading Summer Oxalic Acid Varroa Treatment

Oxalic Acid for Beekeepers

Oxalic acid is known to beekeepers because:

It affects Varroa directly and indirectly. Directly – the acid damages their  mouthparts. Indirectly – it increases grooming activity between bees and more Varroa are dislodged in the process.

  • The mites seem unable to acquire resistance to it;
  • It doesn’t accumulate in beeswax;
  • Doesn’t harm the bees;
  • It is an organic remedy;
  • And a harmless natural component of honey.

But there’s more… Continue reading Oxalic Acid for Beekeepers

Small Hive Beetle (SHB) Prevention

Now that Small Hive Beetle (SHB) has been found in Europe, member states have the power to bring in legislation to protect their resident bees, and their beekeepers, from SHB. Member states can now ban the importation of the following agents of spread:

  • Honey bees – package bees and queen bees;
  • Bumble bees;
  • Honeycomb – also known as comb-honey;
  • Unprocessed beeswax.

The legislation is in Article 36 of the EU Treaty. Continue reading Small Hive Beetle (SHB) Prevention

Small Hive Beetle (SHB) Control

So what do we do on the day we find small hive beetle scuttling about amongst our bees?

It seems that, with the exception of Portugal, whenever it has reached a new country it has managed to get itself well established before anybody notices it and once it is established there is no shifting it. Then we are looking at putting more pesticide strips into our hives and also ploughing up the surrounding soil and drenching it with chemicals which are currently illegal in Europe… Continue reading Small Hive Beetle (SHB) Control

Small Hive Beetle (SHB) Life Cycle


Small hive beetle (Aethena tumida) is originally from sub-Saharan Africa where it is an insignificant pest – an inconvenience. It occupies a scavenger role – a sort of insect vulture – picking off weak African honey bee colonies and polishing off the dead. African honey bees have evolved defence mechanisms against the beetle… Continue reading Small Hive Beetle (SHB) Life Cycle

Winter Losses

It has been a good winter for the bees and there have been very few losses. However, what do you do if you find a hive of your bees has died out?

Well, the first thing to do is find out why they died because whatever killed them could still be lurking in there; if you can pin down the cause of death then you will know what to do with the hive.

Look for the two most obvious things first:

  • Starvation
  • Poor queen

Much will depend on the time of year they died… Continue reading Winter Losses

Bee Viruses

Viruses are the smallest of all the micro-organisms. There is debate about whether they are really alive or just tiny machine-like bundles of protein which function only in response to physical forces. They have no independent metabolism and are unable to live or reproduce on their own. Instead the modus operandi of viruses is to penetrate a cell wall of the target creature and head for the nucleus which is then hi-jacked and coerced into manufacturing more viral particles; the cell becomes a virus factory. Generally when the cycle is over, the cell will rupture and millions of new viruses will float or seep out into the environment. Continue reading Bee Viruses