Hive Management Additional Resources

There are a wide variety of informational resources and scholarly articles available regarding honey bee health. The Honey Bee Health Coalition gathered these select resources together — all of which are well-researched, vetted by the apicultural field, and widely accepted — as a service to beekeepers and others interested in bee health. Though not an exhaustive list, these resources are an excellent starting point. The authors represented here have a strong background in honey bee research, and the research chosen has been supported and referenced by multiple universities and extension.

When consulting resources beyond this site, readers should search for vetted documents with robust support from honey bee researchers. Universities, extension, state beekeeping associations, and state apiculturists often offer valuable resources for hive management on their websites. Be aware that less rigorous vetted sources, including some blogs and videos, can be incorrect, scientifically unproven, or advise practices that are illegal and/or harmful for your bees.

The following vetted resources should give most beekeepers the information you need to control pests and pathogens in your hives and keep healthy colonies.

The Complex Life of the Honey Bee: Environmental, Biological, and Chemical Challenges to Colony Health
This publication, which is part of the Protecting Pollinators series, explains the complex biology of honey bees. It largely explores the role of pesticides, but also that of other threats, in bee health.

Beekeeper Instructional Videos

The University of Guelph’s Honey Bee Research Centre’s online beekeeping video series provides new and advanced beekeepers with demonstrations on a variety of topics ranging from how to open a hive to queen rearing.

Nutrition Resources
Beekeeper choices regarding nutrition have a strong impact on the health of their hives. Healthy bees can be encouraged by situating hives near locations with abundant forage, and augmenting bee diet with nutritional supplements when natural food is unavailable. The resources listed here further discuss the connection between bee nutrition and healthy hives, and provide guidance for ensuring that hives have access to a nutritious diet.

Hive Pest Management Resources
Varroa Management Resources
Varroa mite infestation represents one of the greatest threats to honey bee health, honey production, and pollination services. These mites can weaken individual bees and spread disease throughout the colony.  Colonies with high levels of Varroa infestations may die if left untreated, and Varroa can quickly spread and infect neighboring colonies. Proactive mite control is crucial to the protection of honey bee health. The following resources explain the impacts of Varroa on honey bees, as well as best management practices for monitoring and treating for Varroa mites.

Additional Pests
In addition to the Varroa mite, several other pests can infest and harm honey bee colonies. For example, the small hive beetle is a destructive pest that causes damage to pollen and honey combs; serious infestations may cause bees to abandon their hive. Recognizing and treating for these pests is important to hive health. These resources discuss the various parasites and other pests that can plague honey bee hives, and how to counteract the stresses they can put on bees.

Disease Resources
Bees are susceptible to a variety of bacterial, fungal and viral diseases that can lead to colony decline. These infections, such as Deformed Wing Virus, Nosema, American Foulbrood, Chalkbrood, and dysentery, weaken bees and can spread to multiple colonies. The following resources provide an overview of the most pervasive types of honey bee diseases, and steps that can be taken to prevent and treat each type of infection.

Pesticide Resources
Certain chemicals are hazardous to honey bees, and some pesticides designed to control pests may have unintended negative consequences on hives. It is important for beekeepers to fully understand the chemical components and toxicity of any pesticides their bees are exposed to whether during foraging or through introduction to hives to control pests and parasites. Only use registered compounds and to fully follow the label.

The resources listed here describe the chemicals most dangerous to bees, and how beekeepers can avoid exposing their hives to harmful substances. For more information on best practices for placing bees on working agricultural lands please see the Coalition’s beekeeper and grower roles flyers.

Annual Bee Health Data

  • The Bee Informed Partnership is a collaboration of efforts across the country from some of the leading research labs and universities in agriculture and science to better understand honey bee declines in the United States.
  • USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service has collected statistics on the number of honey bee colonies and U.S. honey production for decades. In order to build an even more robust scientific body of knowledge on honey bees at USDA, NASS started collecting data in 2016 on honey bee health and pollination costs.