Threats & dangers to our apiary


Wax Moth

This is what nobody wants to find.

Dead colony of bees with brood box completely destroyed by wax moth.

Wax moth is particularly troublesome when colonies begin to cluster and leave older brood comb in order to move towards an area that is warmer.

The result are unguarded bottom entrances and in many cases an infestation alongside the cluster of bees.



Wasps are a perennial problem for many beekeepers. The issue of wasps is compounded by the fact that they are most abundant when there is a poor nectar flow late in the season, and their needs change from protein to carbohydrate. Wasps are extremely persistent and will attempt to enter a hive through any opening. 

Colonies are already under increased stress with large populations and hatching brood so wasps cause increased guarding behaviour and irritable colonies.

More concerning is the fact that when bees chase wasps in the hive, the queen is disturbed and quite often act differently, running over the comb and moving to areas where she is not normally found (away from brood) causing bees to mistakenly attack her.

There are many cases of the queen being 'balled' by workers in these situations, resulting in queen losses at a time when there are decreased inspections and therefore the loss only being recognised far too late in the season by the apiculturalist.


Small Hive Beetle

The Small hive beetle (SHB), Aethina tumida, is an invasive species originating from Africa which has proved to be a serious pest of honeybee hives in the USA and Australia. The SHB has been made notifiable within the European Community.

Indigenous to  Southern Africa.

  • First found in United States (Florida) in 1998. Now very widespread in the USA, including Hawaii (as of 2010).
  • First found in Australia (Queensland and New South Wales) in 2002 where it is now well established. Present in Victoria and considered endemic in all of those States. Has been detected in Western Australia (on the North East border with Northern Territory).
  • Detected in Canada (Manitoba) in 2002. Also confirmed in Quebec (2008). Not yet well established.
  • Confirmed in Jamaica (2005) and Mexico (2007). Reported present in Egypt (2000) and now confirmed as an infestation (2015). 
  • Also found in Eritrea and Tanzania.
  • Intercepted and eradicated in Portugal (2004) in a consignment of queen bees from Texas.
  • Confirmed in Cuba (2012).
  • Presence confirmed in the region of Calabria in Southern Italy (2014) and thought to have been eradicated in Sicily. 

Measures are in place to try and eradicate the pest but it is now assumed that SHB is established in southern Italy.


The Future?

When SHB does arrive in the United Kingdom there will have to be a complete rethink of hive entrances and mesh floors.

Small Hive Beetles can vary in size (adult female 4.6 - 5.7mm, males  4.2 - 5.5mm and both nearly identical in width at from 2.8 - 3.2mm) depending on climatic conditions and nutrition and the commonly used mesh floors will more than likely provide a mechanism for entry.

More importantly, the hive debris that falls through the open mesh floor will provide a source of food and the 'expanse' of the floor (mesh) will be an attractant.

Article from Biologist February 2010