Large Pests of Honey Bees

There are many pests of honeybees. I will discuss a few of the larger animals. The Mid-Atlantic Apicultural Research & Extensions Consortium has a great publication on the topic Like Winnie the Pooh, bears love to chow down on brood and honey. Their quest for honey results in a hive being destroyed in the process. If you have encountered this problem in the past, then you can try building an electric fence or place a stout wire cage around clusters of colonies placed on a platform. Alternatively you may have to relocate your colonies as the bear may come back looking for more food.

Several other warm-blooded mammals such as skunks, opossum and raccoons like a quick snack of live bees. They will munch of the bees as they fly out of a colony. In addition, in the fall mice and moles can be a nuisance by gnaw frames and chewing on comb. This can be easily fixed by raising the hive up on a hive stand or placing a large mesh wire before the hive entrance reducing annoying small mammals and rodents.

Even stored equipment can provide a nice home for rats and squirrels. This can result in damaged and soiled frames. The soiled frames deter honeybees. Thus, when storing equipment, seal or close the hive bodies and super stacks.

The preceding pests are not too common but can and do occur. If you have had an experience with one or several of the pests please share your solution. In addition, if there is a large pest not mentioned please feel free to post your encounter.

Written By: Heather Eversole

Heather Eversole has written 22 post in this blog.

As a Faculty Research Assistant, I am a part of the Bee Diagnostic team located at the University of Maryland, College Park. I process samples for the Bee Informed Partnership and APHIS National Honey Bee Survey, primarily seeking out the parasitic mite, Varroa. I wear many hats including generating reports, managing lab functions as well as assisting undergraduates with honey bee related projects. Prior to my honey bee research interests I took part in submerged aquatic vegetation research projects located on the Chesapeake Bay as well as field work involving mangroves in Belize and Florida. You might say I was “stung” by honey bees and now I am hooked. I have my bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Maryland and always eager to expand my entomology knowledge.


10 Responses to “Large Pests of Honey Bees”

  1. Brian Fishback

    When storing boxes with frames in them I place a metal queen excluder on the bottom of the stack. This keeps mice from entering and destroying woodware yet allows air to pass thru.

  2. Bee keeper

    Well I’m lucky that I live in an area where I do not have problems which such animals that are destroying our bee hives.

  3. Gary Brain

    I have had good results of deterring raccoons and skunks by placing 12″x18″ plywood strips that I have screwed 20 or so 2″ sheetrock screws into and then place in front of and beside the entrances, screw points up. NOT pet or urban friendly! For Large animals I have constructed a 6′ high electric fence around my winter yard. I use 2″ “horse guard” tape spaced 12″ apart on “t” posts. It works on most large animals except for bears that have a taste for honey, then it is a call to the wildlife authorities for a bear trap. I use temp. electric fencing when hives are placed outside of the apiary.
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