Acarapis mijten

Other parasites and diseases

The profusion of bee diseases and parasites is very diverse. Ranging from pollen mites to wax moths, they all benefit from honeybees in one way or another. Acarapis mites can even lead to the death of honeybee colonies. Some organisms live commensally in hives or arrive as secondary infections with other important pathogens.

Acarapis mites

Acarapis mites (Acarapis woodi) are parasites that attach themselves to the first pair of trachea (breathing tubes) of the adult honeybee. The queen, workers and drones can all become infected.

The mite is miniscule: 85-116 μm long and 57-85 μm wide, is yellow-white in colour and has eight legs. The mouthparts, with a piercing/sucking mechanism, are powerfully developed. The mite probably produces a substance that weakens chitin, to make piercing easier. The first pair of legs contains the organs of touch.

Amoebic diseases

The amoeba Malpighamoeba mellificae Prell belongs to the group of unicellular animal-like organisms, the Protozoa. These protozoa move by means of pseudopodia (false feet) and feed by phagocytosis.

Malpighamoeba mellificae can form cysts. These cysts have a highly resistant cell wall; they are spherical with a cross-section measuring about 7.5 μm. When the cysts, which are consumed by the bees with their food, reach the rectum of the bee, the amoebae are released. They crawl back through the small intestine into the Malpighian tubules, where they multiply and eventually form cysts once again. These cysts are then excreted with the faeces.

The amoebae damage and clog the Malpighian tubules. As a result, metabolic waste products build up and become toxic to the bee. They also disrupt the bee's water balance, causing dysentery.

Wax moths

Experienced beekeepers have a basic rule of thumb: be careful when storing honeycombs and hive material. And there is a reason for this! Wax moths can completely devour stored honeycombs. They can even destroy the wooden frame! By themselves, wax moths are not a threat for honeybees, but in weak colonies they can eat their way through the honeycombs. There are simple ways to control wax moths.

For more information: Imkerpedia

Braula coeca

The common name for Braula coeca is the bee louse. In reality, it is a wingless fly that is entirely dependent on honey bees for its survival. The bee louse no longer occurs in the Netherlands. This species probably disappeared due to the introduction of the Varroa mite. The products that are used to control the Varroa mite are harmful for this commensal organism.