Acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV), Kashmir bee virus (KBV) and Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV) are part of a complex of closely related viruses from the Family Dicistroviridae. These viruses have a widespread prevalence in honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies and a predominantly sub-clinical etiology that contrasts sharply with the extremely virulent pathology encountered at elevated titres, either artificially induced or encountered naturally. These viruses are frequently implicated in honey bee colony losses, especially when the colonies are infested with the parasitic mite Varroa destructor. Here we review the historical and recent literature of this virus complex, covering history and origins; the geographic, host and tissue distribution; pathology and transmission; genetics and variation; diagnostics, and discuss these within the context of the molecular and biological similarities and differences between the viruses. We also briefly discuss three recent developments relating specifically to IAPV, concerning its association with Colony Collapse Disorder, treatment of IAPV infection with siRNA and possible honey bee resistance to IAPV. Crown Copyright 2009. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.