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Mites and Honey Bees

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Recently we were talking with the president of a regional beekeeping association, and asked him what beekeepers in his association were concerned about.

“No question about that,” he said. “Varroa mites.”

There’s been a lot of speculation lately on what is, and isn’t, suspected of causing or contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder, the serious problem being experienced with honey bees — insects that play a critical role in agriculture. A study published June 8 by Science, “Global Honey Bee Viral Landscape Altered by a Parasitic Mite,” brings some clarity to the subject and points in the direction of what might be useful research.

Here is the study’s abstract:

“Emerging diseases are among the greatest threats to honey bees. Unfortunately, where and when an emerging disease will appear are almost impossible to predict. The arrival of the parasitic Varroa mite into the Hawaiian honey bee population allowed us to investigate changes in the prevalence, load, and strain diversity of honey bee viruses. The mite increased the prevalence of a single viral species, deformed wing virus (DWV), from ~10 to 100% within honey bee populations, which was accompanied by a million-fold increase in viral titer and a massive reduction in DWV diversity, leading to the predominance of a single DWV strain. Therefore, the global spread of Varroa has selected DWV variants that have emerged to allow it to become one of the most widely distributed and contagious insect viruses on the planet.”

You can read the full study at Science.

Western Farm Press also published a story about the study: Beekeepers worldwide face mite scourge.

The study was done by researchers at the University of Sheffield in the U.K., the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the Food and Environment Research Agency, U.K.

Monsanto did not contribute to or financially support the study.

1 Responses to "Mites and Honey Bees"

  1. Inappropriately named, “CCD” is in my humble opinion, a classic case of viral pandemic. Pesticide kills are local, not global and more than not a case of misapplication. The answer will undoubtedly come from genetic research with Rnai based technology and deal with the real problem in “CCD” which is the Varroa/Virus complex. I applaud Monsanto.
    President- Tom Hutt
    Beekeepers of Shawangunk


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