Bee Diseases

Bee Diseases

When doing an inspection always shake the bees off one frame and take a good look for issues.

Check the laying pattern. Check for bees in all stages. Check for healthy brood – Milky White and C shaped. 3 Days Eggs, 6 days uncapped and 12 days capped. Check for the proportions.

If no eggs are there drones cells? If drones in a laying pattern then there is probably a queen but she has run out of sperm. If the drone cells are random and in the honey supers then its workers laying drones. If a queen was present then this would not happen as the Queen pheromone supresses the workers ovaries. If there are many workers laying then this equated to the colony thinking they are queen right and if you introduce a queen they will kill her.

American Foul Brood (AFB) After Capped - Must Notify Bee Inspector

Pepper Pot Brood Pattern. Bee Dies and drops to the bottom of the cell. These look like scales. The whole bee is consumed except the head. Use tweezers to take out a bee from a sunken cell and If you see a bee there then its not likely to be EFB or EFB as the bee would have been consumed.

  • Normally Sealed Brood
  • Sunken, perforated, greasy cappings
  • Pepper Pot Brood Pattern
  • Sticky Brown gunge that ropes when you pull it. (Dispose of item carefully)
  • Tough Scale left behind
  • Drops to bottom of the cell
  • Unpleasant smell
  • Consumes everything except the head

Most common source AFB is supermarket honey.

If you get it the bees, honey and equipment must be burnt.

European Foul Brood (EFB) Before Capped - Must Notify Bee Inspector

  • Normally unsealed brood
  • Larva in unnatural positions (Not C Shape)
  • Has a melted appearance
  • White gut sack visible through the body wall.
  • May have an unpleasant odour
  • The scales are loose and easy to remove fallen to bottom of cell. Look from the Top bar down onto the bottom edge. If you look straight down often you don’t see anything.

If the infection is small the nurse bees may deal with the issue by sealing the infected cells. If you have it and there are more than 5 frames of bees, laying Queen and 50% of the hive full of bees a shook swarm may help 4% re-occurrence. Otherwise destroy.

Small Hive Beetle

Not in the UK yet. 1/3rd the size of a bee. Lava covered in spines. They eat everything and there will be many in the hive. Smells of rotting Oranges.


Single biggest problem for beekeepers. Varroa plus another disease and the colony will likely die out.

Sac Brood

Caused by a virus.  

Chalk Brood

Caused by a Fungus.


Can look like EFB as the bees stop feeding the Larva if they are starving.


Use Washing Soda to sterilise and use Tweezers / LED torch to examine cells. A flash camera (phone) picks up white bacteria in the gut.  

  • Strict Apiary Hygiene
  • Sterilise Supers
  • Number Supers per hive

Clean Suit, Gloves equipment and wellies regularly.   

Bee Diseases