The Varroa destructor mite, a devastating pest of western honey bees, can threaten a honey bee colony’s survival if it is left uncontrolled. This 8-page fact sheet written by Cameron Jack, Nathan Sperry, Ashley N. Mortensen, and Jamie Ellis and published by the UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department explains how to monitor honey bee colonies to ensure that infestations of these destructive pests do not grow to dangerous levels.
European foulbrood is a bacterial disease that affects Western honey bee larvae. It is a concern to beekeepers everywhere, though it is less serious than American foulbrood because it does not form spores, which means that it can be treated. This 7-page fact sheet written by Catherine M. Mueller, Cameron J. Jack, Ashley N. Mortensen, and Jamie Ellis and published by the UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department describes the disease and explains how to identify it to help beekeepers manage their colonies effectively and prevent the spread of both American and European foulbrood.
Nosema are single-celled fungal parasites that infect various animal hosts. One species, Nosema ceranae, has become the dominant microsporidian infection in western honey bee colonies. When honey bees ingest Nosema spores, many eventually starve to death because the spores replicate in the stomach and hijack the bee’s nutrition. The risk of Nosema infection can be particularly unsettling to beekeepers because colonies often do not show signs of infection until the colony is severely diminished.
This 5-page fact sheet written by Ashley N. Mortensen, Cameron J. Jack, Meghan McConnell, Liana Teigen, and Jamie Ellis and published by the Department of Entomology and Nematology explains how to diagnose and quantify Nosema infection in a honey bee colony.
A honey bee colony is a superorganism, which means that together its members function like a single animal. Bees within a colony work together like the cells in a human body. They warm the colony in the winter by vibrating their wings to generate heat and cool it in the summer by ferrying in droplets of water and fanning air over them. Worker bees fan air into and out of the colony entrance in distinct inhalations and exhalations. Colonies reproduce by swarming to create new daughter colonies that in turn thermoregulate, breathe, and reproduce just as a single autonomous animal does. In three pages this fact sheet explains the intricate caste system and age-based division of labor that allows colonies of humankind’s best-loved pollinators to function and thrive. Written by Ashley N. Mortensen, Bryan Smith, and James D. Ellis and published by the Entomology and Nematology Department.
Tracheal mites are parasites of the western honey bee and negatively impact the health and productivity of an infested colony. This 6-page fact sheet details the method of dissecting honey bees in order to diagnose tracheal mites. Written by John Bonkowski, Ashley N. Mortensen, and James D Ellis, and published by the UF Department of Entomology and Nematology, January 2015.
The zombie fly is primarily a parasitoid of bumble bees and wasps in North America. In 2012, Dr. John Hafernik and his colleagus at San Francisco State University discovered that Apocephalus borealis also parasitizes honey bees. Parasitized honey bees show zombie-like behavior by leaving their hives at night and are often attracted to nearby lights where they show disoriented behavior and die in a few hours. This 5-page fact sheet was written by Nicole A. Casuso, Ashley N. Mortensen, and James D. Ellis, and published by the UF Department of Entomology and Nematology, October 2014. (Photo: Jessica Andrieux, CC SA-BY 2.5)
Ripiphoridae are a family of unusual parasitic beetles that are thought to be related to tumbling flower beetles and blister beetles. They parasitize bees and wasps, roaches, and wood-boring beetles, but specific hosts for many ripiphorid species are unknown. Their secretive life cycle makes an assessment of their economic and ecological impact very difficult. Additional research is necessary to determine the abundance and impact of Ripiphorus species. This 4-page fact sheet was written by David Owens, Ashley N. Mortensen, Jeanette Klopchin, William Kern, and Jamie D. Ellis, and published by the UF Department of Entomology and Nematology, December 2014.
Honey bees throughout the world are exposed to numerous pests, parasites, and pathogens. One such parasite is Tropilaelaps spp. Delfinado & Baker, an ectoparasitic mite that feeds on the hemolymph of developing honey bees. Four species of Tropilaelaps have been identified and characterized. This 4-page fact sheet was written by Ashley N. Mortensen, Sarah Burleson, Gunasegaran Chelliah, Ken Johnson, Daniel R. Schmehl, and Jamie D. Ellis, and published by the UF Department of Entomology and Nematology, October 2014. (Photo credit: Pest and Diseases Image Library, Bugwood.org)