The colony is more prone to attacks from a range of pests during the winter period when the bees are less active in guarding the hive. Simple precautions can be taken.
Woodpeckers – If woodpeckers are a problem in your area they can be dissuaded from punching holes in you hive if you cover the hive with small-diameter wire mesh (25mm). This is small enough to keep the woodpecker out but large enough to allow free movement of the bees. The mesh should completely surround the hive right down to the floor. If you need to take this precaution, do it after you have fed the colony for the winter.
Rodents – Your hive is an ideal habitat for mice and small rodents. Shelter from the elements and their own predators, warm with a ready food supply – who wouldn’t want to take up residence. Mice will gnaw their way through almost anything, eat the precious store the bees have built up. Putting a mouse guard over the entrance should prevent entry but still allow the bees to come and go. Rats are a more of a problem to deal with should they chew their way into the hive. Rat urine can pass on Weil’s disease, so if you find you have a rat problem you are best advised to destroy the combs and scrub all other equipment with very strong disinfectant.
Wasps – The wasp will rob the hive and attempt entry wherever possible. This is more inclined to happen when food is scarce, usually the winter months. Ensure your hive has a tight fitting lid and any ventilation holes are covered with fine mesh. Restrict the entrance to one bee space – this makes defending it much easier.
Robber bees – These bees will steal honey when the opportunity arises. To discourage this activity don’t leave combs, or equipment with residue near the entrance.
Wax moths – Visit the National Bee Unit website for detailed information about, and dealing with, wax moths.
Small hive beetle – Visit the National Bee Unit website for detailed information about, and dealing with, small hive beetle.
Tropilaelaps – Visit the National Bee Unit website for detailed information about, and dealing with, tropilaelaps.
There are a plethora of books addressing the diseases affecting honeybees, but rather than detail the causes and solutions of each individual disease in this website for you, we recommend you visit National Bee Unit website where the most up-to-date information can be accessed.