Many times bee enemies and the diseases associated with apis mellifera (honey bees) work hand-in-hand to overtake a colony.
If an enemy or disease make an inroad, another enemy or disease can gain a foothold until the colony is so weak that the bees can be overthrown.
Some enemies like the bear and the human (vandals, thieves, etc.) are so destructive to the hive that it is near impossible for the bees to rebuild their home.
Other enemies, like the small hive beetle and the varroa mite work to rob the colony of it's resources. The beetle destroys the hive processes by eating the stored resources of the hive.
The mite robs the individual bees of the colony of their vitality by feeding on their bee-blood. Other types of this kind of enemy are the tracheal mite and the wax moth.
Deception by the ambush bug and skunk enable these enemies to capture a sweet and tasty meal. The ambush bug (assassin bug) uses it's camouflage qualities as it hides near the nectaries of flowers to assassinate the pollinating insect.
The skunk uses deception by knocking on the outside of the hive at night to get the bees to come to the entrance, and then grabs the bee, rolls it on the ground and eats it. Other bee enemies like this are birds, snakes, spiders and frogs/toads.
The greatest bee antagonist of all is the human.
Mankind has devised ways to produce chemicals which are meant to help them in their agricultural ambitions.
However, a great side effect of this endeavor is the poisoning of the most beneficial insect known to man (the honey bee).
Man's pursuit of commercial beekeeping through their migratory practices have caused the bees to be transported from one side of this nation to other for most of the year.
This has caused stress and disorientation for billions of honey bees.
There are two main types of disease that attack the bee. One primarily goes after the brood while the other affects the adult bee population.
American Foulbrood (AFB) is the most destructive of the brood diseases. The others can wreak havoc in a hive as well, but not so completely as AFB. Others include European Foulbrood (EFB), Chalkbrood and Sacbrood.
Of this type, Nosema Disease and Bee Paralysis attack the adult bees, weakening them and eventually bringing them to an early death. Nosema is caused by a parasite that affects the digestive system of the honey bee. Bee paralysis is caused by a virus and there is no known cure.
Learning about honey bee enemies and their diseases will enable the beekeeper to identify the early signs of development before the colony of bees are overcome by their adversary(ies). Prevention or early detection will always be worth the effort of diligent vigilance!
Additional information on natural beekeeping
Bee removals are extremely rewarding.
Not only is the beekeeper providing a service to the resident, but he/she is also saving bees and building up their apiary. An added benefit is the genetic diversity gained through the introduction of potential feral colonies.
Here are some of my recent adventures...