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Diseases, pests and hygiene

Adult bees can suffer from a variety of diseases or parasites. For comprehensive information about the most common adult bee diseases in the UK, including recognising their signs and how to manage them, please view our advisory leaflet on adult bee diseases.

Honey bee brood can also suffer from a variety of diseases, in addition to foulbrood. Learn more about these in our advisory leaflet on foulbrood and other brood diseases.

In addition, pests such as wax moth can cause damage to hive components and wax. Learn more about how to treat boxes and frames before storage to prevent infestation in our fact sheet on fumigating comb.

A honey bee is foraging on a purple geranium flower


To help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading pests and diseases, good apiary hygiene is essential. Routine hygiene can prevent spread of pathogens that are at low levels in the apiary, which may not present with signs of diseases. Setting up colonies to prevent drifting can also help prevent spread of pests and pathogens. For more guidance on routine apiary hygiene, please view our fact sheet on apiary hygiene.

Disease containment

Sometimes, despite best efforts, an outbreak of disease can occur in the apiary. When this occurs, methods that are more stringent than those used for routine hygiene are needed. This will include methodical cleaning and disinfecting of equipment and possible treatment or destruction of wax frames. For help decontaminating in the apiary after an outbreak of disease, please see our fact sheet on how to disinfect hives after disease.