Research led by Samuel D. Ramsey:  Varroa destructor feeds primarily on honey bee fat body tissue and not hemolymph explains: Varroa destructor causes considerable damage to honey bees and subsequently the field of apiculture through just one process: feeding. For five decades, we have believed that these mites consume hemolymph like a tick consumes blood, and that Varroa cause harm primarily by vectoring viruses. Our work shows that they cause damage more directly. Varroa externally digest and consume fat body tissue rather than blood. 

That's Varroa. You must be able to manage varroa in your bees if you want to be a beekeeper.

Keeping bees is like keeping other animals. Beekeepers are responsible for their well-being and must be aware of how to keep them healthy. There are many diseases of honey bees. Some of these are 'notifiable', like other livestock diseases. 

Amongst other serious diseases are American Foulbrood (AFB) and European Foulbrood (EFB).

DEFRA maintain a national system of inspection and advice for beekeepers, called the National Bee Unit. 

You can find a lot more information about varroa and bee diseases in general from BeeBase.

Every beekeeper must have the knowledge and tools to deal with these problems which can face their colonies. These diseases are indiscriminate and could show up anywhere at any time.

One of the best things about beekeeping in the UK is the Government infrastructure that is in place to deal with outbreaks. If any beekeeper suspects they may have found AFB or EFB, the Regional Bee Inspectors are ready to be called out for support and to check the colonies in the apiary. If an outbreak has occured, the Inspector will contact all the other apiaries in a certain radius to make sure there has not been a spread.  Again, further information can be found on BeeBase.  This is also an important point as to why we encourage every beekeeper to register their apiary on the Beebase Hive Count.

The BBKA beekeeping exams ensure the UK's beekeeping population maintains a high standard of bee husbandry and knowledge to ensure the future survival of honey bees.

Asian hornet is now the biggest imminent threat facing beekeepers in the UK today. Help us now by considering making a donation.