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How are bees affected by diseases?

How are bees affected by diseases?

Whilst we all know, humans have had their own struggles with COVID, bees have also had to deal with their fair share of diseases.

Sadly, our honey bees are especially at risk to infectious diseases. This is because they live in hives that can be extremely crowded, meaning they are used to touching each-other the whole time.


Recently, the Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV) is increasingly putting their lives at risk.

Similar to us, bees have picked up on the idea of social distancing in hives in order to avoid contracting diseases from infected bees. This has however produced a slightly concerning outcome for the outbreak of other diseases within the bee community. 

Did you know that every hive has guard bees who protect the hives doors from incoming intruders, such as other insects or bees from other hives. This is done by detecting certain smells with their antennas in order to identify them as either members of the colony or foreigners. 

However, this natural part of bees existence, is in fact making the spread of bee diseases more common. Research has found that infected bees are able to bypass the guards of a new hive. In terms of the IAPV infected bees, studies have shown that these bees have a much higher rate of entering foreign colonies than healthy bees. The guards let around 30% of infected bees enter compared with about 15% of healthy foreign bees.

This has resulted in the increase spread of viruses as new viruses are being brought in to new hives that these ill bees waltz into. Other diseases, such as the dangerous disease caused by the Varroa mite parasite circulating (a detrimental disease to bees that attacks their wings and results in fatality) are also a worry for our bee communities. 



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