Parasitic mite syndrome

What is parasitic mite syndrome?

Half-moon syndrome does not appear to be a disease of honey bees, since no organism has ever been found that produces the syndrome’s effects. The cause of half-moon syndrome is unknown, but research indicates that it is probably nutritional and/or genetic in origin.

The features of half-moon syndrome closely resemble those of European foulbrood and parasitic mite syndrome. These include patchy brood patterns, perforated cappings (in advanced stages), curled larvae (either c-shaped in the bottom of the cell, or twisted in a “half-moon” shape from the bottom to the top of the cell), yellowish colouration and tracheal outline, and a sour, urine-like smell.

Where to look for symptoms

Symptoms are found in cells both before and after capping. The cell cappings can appear sunken, dark and perforated identical to prepupae with AFB. However, unlike AFB, only larvae and prepupae are affected. Prepupae are usually stretched out along the bottom wall of the cell (Fig. 52). Affected larvae and prepupae vary in colour between white and yellow.

Figure 52: PMS affected prepupa stretched out along the lower cell wall
Figure 53: A PMS larva spiralling up the wall of a cell

Larvae may spiral up the walls of the cell (Fig. 53) like larvae with European foulbrood or half-moon syndrome.

The larvae may also curl around the entrance of the cell (Fig. 54) and at time,s form a dry scale around the entrance of the cell (Fig. 55).

Figure 54: A PMS larva curled around the opening of a cell
Figure 55: Dried larval remains curling around the top of the cell

Unlike AFB, PMS larval remains can be completely removed with a match stick (Fig. 56) and will not rope out. When PMS symptoms appear the colony is close to death. However, if a varroa treatment is administered, the colony may survive and the PMS symptoms will disappear.

Figure 56: A PMS affected larvae being completely removed from a cell

Unlike AFB, PMS-affected larvae do not rope out and can be completely removed from their cell with a match stick.

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