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Vet J. 2000 Jul;160(1):61-73.

A veterinary approach to the European honey bee (Apis mellifera)

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  • 1Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, UK.


The European honey bee (Apis mellifera) has the unusual status of being an inherently wild species from which a natural foodstuff (honey) is derived by manipulating its behaviour to deposit this in man-made wooden frames. Bees also produce propolis and Royal Jelly which can be harvested but their most important effect is one not immediately obvious as an economic product: that of pollination. Bee diseases are predominantly infectious and parasitic conditions accentuated by the close confinement in which they congregate, either in man-made hives or in colonies in a natural cavity. Treatment or at least control of some of these conditions can be attempted. In some cases natural bee behavioural traits limit the effect of the disease while in others, such as the notifiable disease American foulbrood, destruction of the colony is the only method of control. The mite Varroa jacobsoni can be controlled by the synthetic pyrethroids flumethrin and tau-fluvalinate. The introduction of these products has heightened veterinary interest in this important invertebrate species.

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