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Diseases of Honey Bees

Paralysis (greasy, hairless bees)

Picture 34 of 34

Bees affected by paralysis tremble uncontrollably and are unable to fly. In addition, they lose the hair from their bodies and have a dark, shiny, or greasy appearance. They are often mistaken for robber bees, but paralytic bees are submissive to attack, whereas robbing bees are not. When paralysis is serious, large numbers of afflicted bees can be found at the colony entrance, crawling up the sides of the hive and/or blades of grass around the hive, and then tumbling to the ground. Healthy bees often tug at infected bees in an effort to drive them away from the hive. Affected bees also may be found on top bars or frames next to the hive cover with wings extended. A colony may recover from paralysis after a short time, or the condition may continue for a year or more without killing the colony. Usually only one or two colonies in an apiary will show signs of the disease. Research has shown that susceptibility to the disease is often inherited. If paralysis persists, colonies should be requeened with a different strain of bees. Adding a frame or two of sealed brood from a healthy colony, to build up the number of young bees in the diseased colony, is also helpful.