Specific Disease Studies

Viral Honeybee Diseases

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Content Contributors
Christian Bien Portrait_edited.jpg

Ben Whitten

Learning Objectives

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What are Viral Honeybee Diseases?
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There are a large number of different viral diseases which have been known to have a great impact not only on bees themselves, but entire colonies. Some of the following diseases are listed;


  • Sacbrood (affects bee larvae)

  • Black queen cell virus (death of queen cells)

  • Kashmir bee virus (similar to human flu)

  • Paralysis virus (disfigures and disables bees)

  • Deformed wing virus

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What is the general life cycle of these diseases?
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  1. Viruses inject their DNA or RNA into bee cells

  2. Copies DNA and infects surrounding cells

  3. Attacks bees at different stages of development and castes of honeybees; eggs, larvae, pupae, adult worker bees, adult drones and queen bees

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What is the mode of transmission for these diseases?
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  • Food-borne transmission

  • Body fluid transmission (which occurs during mating)

  • Vector transmission, i.e. via a parasitic mite such as the Varroa mite (deformed wing virus)

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What is the impact on bees?
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  • Symptoms are delayed until it is too late to save the bees

  • Dramatically affects the health of honeybees, and shortens the lifespan of bees who are infected under particular conditions

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