Bee Pests

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bee Pests


(enemies of honeybees), animals that feed on bees or what they produce and that are harmful to apiculture. There are two main groups of bee pests—parasites and predators. Parasites live in the bee colony and feed on what the bees produce; predators settle in the apiary or in the vicinity of bee pastures and attack bees.

Parasites include various species of moths, mites, beetles, and mice. The moths that are harmful to bees include the larger wax moth(Galleria mellonella) and lesser wax moth (Achroece grisella), whose caterpillars feed on honeycombs, the common clothes moth(Tineola biselliella) and the lesser clothes moth(Tinea pellionella), which feed on beebread and honeycombs, and the beebread moths (of the genus Ephestia, family Pyralidae), whose larvae feed solely on beebread. If bees are poorly cared for, insects that frequently settle in weak colonies include the bacon beetle (Dermestes lardarius), a black beetle about 7.7 cm long that lays eggs in hive litter and whose larvae feed on beebread and destroy the honeycomb cells, as well as the spider beetle(Ptinusfur) and hive mites from such families as the Tyroglyphidae, Glycyphagidae, and Tarsonemidae. The beetles and mites feed on dead bees and larvae, beebread, honeycombs, and insulating materials. Mice enter beehives in the fall or winter when the bee colonies are clustered. They make nests in the hives, eat the supply of beebread and honey, destroy the honeycombs, and agitate the bees. Methods of controlling parasites include keeping only strong colonies in an apiary, removing honeycombs not occupied by bees from the hives, keeping the colonies well warmed, regularly cleaning the floors and walls of the hives, exterminating parasites when disassembling the hives, burning rubbish from the hives, and fumigating empty honeycombs with combustible sulfur. Mice are exterminated with traps and poisoned bait placed in winter hives and in storerooms with honeycombs.

Predators include some insect-eating birds and carnivorous insects such as the honey buzzard, both common (Pernis apivorus) and eastern (P. orientalis), which are predatory birds of medium size; the bee eater, or golden oriole (Merops apiaster), a small golden-green bird that flies in flocks; and shrikes, which build nests around apiaries and exterminate flying bees (the most dangerous are the brown, rust-colored, woodchat, and great grey shrikes).

Among the particularly injurious insect predators are the bee wolf(Philanthus triangulum), which is a solitary wasp that feeds on nectar in the adult stage and on honeybees in the larval stage, the giant hornet(Vespa crabro), the eastern hornet(V. orientalis), and large dragonflies. Bee wolves and hornets attack flying bees, kill them, and feed them to their larvae. Dragonflies destroy masses of bees. Other insects—various species of wasps and bumblebees and the death’s head hawk moth(Acherontia atropos)—find their way into the hives and steal the honey. Ants often attack weak colonies and destroy the honey. Methods of controlling predators include exterminating adult forms and destroying their nests by mechanical, chemical, and bacteriological means, driving birds and dragonflies from the apiary with rifle shots, and moving the beehives to a new place.


Beliavskii, A. G. Vragi pchel. Leningrad, 1927.
Fedosov, N. F. Slovar’-spravochnik pchelovoda. Moscow, 1955.
Avetisian, G. A. Pchelovodstvo. Moscow, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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