About this tool


The Western honey bee, Apis mellifera, plays a huge role in agriculture in the U.S. and beyond. Beekeepers throughout the world manage honey bee colonies to support pollination of certain crops, to harvest honey for human consumption, and as a hobby.  The importance of honey bees for humans cannot be overstated.  Yet there are challenges associated with successful beekeeping, in particular those concerning internal and external hive problems. The BeeMD is designed to help beekeepers quickly identify honey bee health issues they may encounter, through an interactive, visually rich, informative, and easy to use website.

The BeeMD was first released to the public in 2016 as a project of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign. It was developed through a collaborative effort (see Contributors and acknowledgments) and hosted on the Pollinator Partnership website with support from APHIS. The BeeMD is now hosted and maintained at idtools.org, a USDA APHIS Identification Technology Program (ITP) platform. On this new platform environment, The BeeMD’s original “visual key” has been completely restructured and streamlined, and the entire website redesigned and expanded, offering much additional informational, visual, and supportive content.

The BeeMD is a dynamic site that we expect to continually grow and keep updated as science and events in the beekeeping community add new information on the ability to diagnose and understand hive health.

The BeeMD welcomes your comments, feedback, and contributions of photographs, to expand the effectiveness of this free resource. Please contact us.


The BeeMD provides identification support to help users diagnose signs of honey bee health issues. In this tool, a “condition” is harm to or impacts on the functioning of honey bees and/or to the hive caused by disease, toxins, pests, physical damage, and other causes. Also covered are abnormal bee behaviors, population problems, and beeswax comb issues that are detrimental to the health of the colony, as well as normal occurrences that may be misinterpreted as problems. In this tool, conditions may also be called "diagnoses."

In The BeeMD, we use the words "sign" or "indication" to refer to what a beekeeper may observe in or around their hive(s), rather than the word "symptom." In addition, in this tool, we mostly refer to the mite Varroa destructor by the common name "varroa."

While occasionally information about treatment recommendations or how to deal with or fix a honey bee health problem is offered, the primary focus of The BeeMD is to help in identifying or diagnosing your honey bee or hive problem.

This tool is focused on Apis mellifera, the Western honey bee. While different subspecies of Apis mellifera may exhibit slightly different behavior and disease resistance, the information contained in this tool should be applicable to all subspecies.

Hive conditions addressed in The BeeMD tool were selected based on their relevance to North American beekeepers. Some, but not all, conditions may be found in other parts of the world.

The intended audience for The BeeMD is primarily beekeepers, both experienced and beginning, though this resource may also be useful for researchers doing studies on bee hives, and anyone else contributing to management of bee hives,