Managing a beehive can be challenging enough without the extra burden from predators. Honey bee colonies can be intruded by parasites, diseases, and other pests throughout all seasons and some can be very harmful. Keeping your hive healthy is of the utmost importance to your beekeeping journey in order to ensure your bees stay healthy.
As humans continue to move bees around, they are becoming more susceptible to parasites and diseases. Continuing to move these colonies around is putting them at a higher risk of importing these diseases into the U.S. As a beekeeper, you want to make sure you are vigilant about the condition of your colony so they do not carry added diseases and parasites. Of course, you can’t always control some parasites and animals getting into your colony. Some of the most aggressive and well-known parasites/animals that attack colonies are:
There are many others to add to this list, but these things are the most common to run into. Modern beekeeping can be a challenging task, and there is still a lot to learn. We are going to tell you a little bit about these predators and how to watch out for them if they come into contact with your colony in the coming months.
Varroa mites are the number one enemy of beekeepers and honey bees all over the world. They are very small and have a red-brown outer shell. These mites are known to be the most destructive enemy of the Western honey bee and are known to be in all parts of the world, excluding Australia. Varroa mites don’t typically feed on adult honey bees – they are more attracted to larvae and pupae in the developing brood. These mites, once latched onto the larvae, will cause deformities as well as viruses. If these mites get into the cells then they have the potential to destroy an entire colony within 2-4 years. Varroa mites are typically hard to spot because they are only a couple of millimetres long and may show few symptoms of being latched on a colony. If infected, bees will lose haemolymph (equivalent to blood in intervertebral), reduced hypo-pharyngeal (the glands that secrete royal jelly), and have a reduced life span. Those are the main effects of varroa mites attaching to honey bees, but some of the main symptoms to look out for in the colony are:
Don’t be fooled, those are only a few of the symptoms to look out for. If you notice any of these, we strongly urge you to purchase a miticide so the varroa mite population does not get out of hand.
Although not as severe as a varroa mite, these pesky moths can cause some damage and possibly even be the cause of a colony collapse. Luckily, most colonies with a strong population are able to tackle these pesky moths, but weaker colonies can be taken out. So, what is a wax moth? Its real name is a Galleria mellonella, and they are highly attracted to beeswax, honey, and pollen. The moths will typically enter the hive at night and lay their eggs in unattended areas.
If searching through the hive, you will want to look for dark-colored, cylindrical larvae woven into the beeswax. They can be easily spotted by the silk lined tunnels they leave in brood wax. These larvae can survive purely on beeswax, and they are a true pest. Luckily, like we mentioned, to most colonies these wax moths are just a bump in the road, not a death sentence. The best way to treat these moths if you see them is to:
As we approach fall and winter time, you want to be extra careful about these little guys invading your colony. Mice may seem harmless, but to your honey bees, they are a serious threat. They typically store themselves in combs and chew the combs and frames in the hive in order to make room for building their own nests – how rude! The main reason for the increase of mice invasions in the winter time is because the hives are warm and there is a lot of food stored inside. Although these mice are pests, the mice are not trying to eat the bees. Their main priority is to get inside and stay warm and feed on their honey and pollen. The mice will also urinate on the honeycomb, making bees reluctant to use the comb or clean out their nests until the spring. With no honey or pollen for these bees to feed on in the winter, it is very likely that the mice will cause an entire colony to collapse.
If you start to see traces of mice in your colony, then consider making a mouse guard. We have attached one of our older blogs in the “Extra Sources” below, discussing how to install your very own mouse guard.
When you find that your bee hive colony has attracted predators, it is important to take the necessary steps to remove them. It’s a good idea to have a plan in place before they come knocking. Mites and mice are two of the most common invaders found in beehives, but moths can also pose a threat if left unchecked. If you want help getting rid of these unwanted guests from your bees’ home, or simply need more information on how best to protect against this type of invasion, please contact us at Beepods today and check out our other resources.
Mouse Guards: Critical Tool
Guide to Predators
The Wax Moth