Varroa mites—‘leading culprit’ of honey bee losses—

Are bees really in decline?

If groups like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace , then they are in desperate decline. They have a simple narrative;

The decline is due to neonicotinoid pesticides which kill all insects, especially bees, indiscriminately.

And so Friends of the Earth, who came such croppers over fracking

https://www.foe.co.uk/page/bee-cause

and they give out packets of seeds of bee-loving plants (an excellent idea anyway, and I tend only to plant insect- and bee-loving plants – and have done for decades.)

And Greenpeace who are similarly duplicitous over many issues

http://bees-decline.org/

Recently they have been successful in stopping B &Q selling plants treated with these neonicotinoids, and the Guardian waxes lyrical about this “success” , though one may wonder what damage it would do to the bees

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/09/bq-to-stop-selling-plants-grown-with-bee-harming-pesticides

It is difficult not to see this as usual green scaremongering and a desire to over-simplify rather than admit to a variety of causes. Little of the serious evidence is conclusive but it is open to a partisan horror story

This latest paper stresses that the main issue is for bee colonies infested by the Varroa mite.

Meanwhile I will continue to plant bee-loving plants and use as few pesticides as possible and then with care. (My staple one is washing-up liquid.)

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As the managed honey bee industry continues to grapple with significant annual colony losses, the Varroa destructor mite is emerging as the leading culprit

Source: Varroa mites—‘leading culprit’ of honey bee losses—hitchhike to nearby hives to spread disease

Varroa mites—‘leading culprit’ of honey bee losses—hitchhike to nearby hives to spread disease

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As the managed honey bee industry continues to grapple with significant annual colony losses, the Varroa destructor mite is emerging as the leading culprit. And, it turns out, the very nature of modern beekeeping may be giving the parasite the exact conditions it needs to spread nearly beyond control.

In an article published yesterday in Environmental Entomology, researchers argue that the Varroa mite has “co-opted” several honey bee behaviors to its own benefit, allowing it to disperse widely even though the mite itself is not a highly mobile insect. The mite’s ability to hitchhike on wandering bees, the infections it transmits to bees, and the density of colonies in managed beekeeping settings make for a deadly combination.

“Beekeepers need to rethink Varroa control and treat Varroa as a migratory pest,” says Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, Ph.D., research leader and location coordinator at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service’s Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Arizona, and lead author of the research.

In the wild, bee colonies tend to survive despite Varroa infestations, and colonies are usually located far enough apart to prevent mites from hitching rides to other colonies on foraging bees. … In managed honey bee settings, though, these dynamics are disrupted, DeGrandi-Hoffman says.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: How the Varroa Mite Co-Opts Honey Bee Behaviors to Its Own Advantage

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