A study documents the spread of bee-killing viruses through New Zealand via the parasitic mite Varroa destructor.
AsianScientist (Aug. 27, 2014) – Honeybee colonies are dying at alarming rates worldwide. A variety of factors have been proposed to explain their decline, but the exact cause—and how bees can be saved—remains unclear. An article published in PLOS Pathogens examines the viral landscape in honeybee colonies in New Zealand after the recent arrival of the parasitic Varroa destructor mite.
The Tasmanian Government, CSIRO and beekeepers have teamed up to fight a pest that could threaten Australian food production.
The varroa destructor is a parasitic mite that attacks honey bees.
Around the world it has already reduced honey bee numbers and affected food crop pollination.
“Estimates from a report released last year have put [the potential cost] to at least about $1.3 billion over the next 30 years,” said Stephen Quarrell, an entomologist from the University of Tasmania.
The latest Oregon bee deaths were a case of “classic starvation,” not pesticides.
Although a veteran commercial beekeeper said “classic starvation” induced by inexperienced hobbyists killed thousands of honey bees in Clackamas County this summer, a retired entomology professor who examined the hives said the case isn’t that simple.
Dewey Caron, who has 40 years experience working with honey bees, said there’s no evidence to blame beginning beekeepers for the deaths, which prompted an intensive investigation and laboratory analysis by the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
Editor’s Note: The USDA and the National Science Foundation are two of the federal science agencies that are members of President Obama’s Pollinator Health Task Force. The inclusion of so many distinguished scientific experts demonstrates the White House’s comitment to developing an effective plan for protecting pollinator health.
CropLife America (CLA) recognizes National Honey Bee Day, taking place August 16, 2014, and reminds the public of the importance of supporting healthy bee populations. This year’s theme, “Sustainable Gardening Begins with Honey Bees,” stresses the role that habitat and forage can play in supporting bee health.
Perhaps the most accurate thing about Albert Einstein’s pronouncement on the importance of bees – “if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left.” – is that he never said it.
It’s an aphorism often quoted in the many media reports on honey bee losses, along with apocalyptic headlines warning of economic and ecological disaster if the honey bee disappears for good.
Overwintering losses of colonies has also sunk to record low for 2013/2014 winter.
European bees are much healthier than many recent publications appear to suggest. New field data from nearly 400,000 bee colonies from 21 countries in Europe and the Mediterranean show that overwintering losses of honey bee colonies – a leading indicator of general bee health – are at their lowest level in years.
The resistance of Varroa mites to currently available chemical miticides is developing rapidly. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research Unit in Baton Rouge, La., have developed honey bees with high expression of the Varroa sensitive hygiene (VSH) trait. Honey bees are naturally hygienic, and they often remove diseased brood from their nests.
Bold, apocalyptic headlines make for great front-page news stories, there’s no question. Unfortunately, when it comes to highly complex and scientific issues, these kinds of headlines usually do a disservice to the topic at hand.
Scientific research is filled with intricacies and rarely yields answers that can be conveyed in a single headline. Far too often in this day and age we’re seeing sensationalism trump science. The issue of neonicotinoids (a type of insecticide) and bee health is a prime example of this.