Archives – August, 2017

The Varroa Problem: Part 9 Knowing Thine Enemy


Randy Oliver

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”– Sun Tzu. We are all beekeepers; we are also all varroa keepers (some of us better at the latter than the former). Varroa is the enemy of both bees and beekeepers. It would behoove us to know the strengths—and more importantly the weaknesses—of our enemy.

Leave a Comment August 21, 2017

National Honeybee Day – Bee a Friend to Cheetahs

Editor’s Note: For more on Africa’s contributions to bee health, see here, here and here.

From: Huffington Post

Dr. Laurie Marker, Contributor Founder and Executive Director of Cheetah Conservation Fund


Beekeeping in Africa is very different than beekeeping in the United States, for example. Because of shipping honeybees from around the world to the U.S. for agriculture, U.S. honeybee populations are riddled with pests and diseases. These pests and diseases are shared among honeybee colonies without enough time for resistance to evolve, and populations are plummeting. A small mite called Varroa destructor, which carries 18 different pathogens in its mouth, is among the worst of the bees’ problems and is guaranteed to be found in every colony in the entire United States. The good news about beekeeping in Southern Africa is that many of these pests and diseases, including the Varroa mite, don’t exist.

CCF’s feral beehive living in a tire.The new and improved feral tire hive.
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Leave a Comment August 18, 2017

What It Means to Lose Neonicotinoid-Treated Seeds: Loss of Crops

Editor’s Note: See, Banning Neonicotinoids is an Environmental Catastrophe and Assessment from the French Ministry of Agriculture on Bee Deaths: Varroa is Enemy #1.

From: The Times of India

England wheat area falls by 2.5 percent – ministry


Farmers in the east of England have cut back rapeseed plantings partly due to problems controlling cabbage stem flea beetle, crop analysts have said.

Curbs on the use of a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids have led to problems controlling the beetles. The EU has restricted their use to protect bees.

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Leave a Comment August 17, 2017

Can these genes save honey bees from killer mites?

From: Futurity

Scientists have discovered a group of genes critical to the survival and reproduction of Varroa mites, the chief enemy of honey bees. The genes could be targeted to control or eliminate the mites.


“The Varroa mite is the worst threat to honey bee health worldwide,” says Zachary Huang, Michigan State University entomologist. “They have developed resistance to many pesticides, so it’s urgent that we explore and target these genes to develop better control methods.”

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Leave a Comment August 16, 2017

Virginia honey bee colonies expanding

From: Rapp News

Honey bee colonies for operations with five or more colonies in Virginia as of July 2017 totaled 8,000, a 23 percent increase over the 6.500 colonies at the start of 2016, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).


Varroa mites were the number one stressor for operations with five or more colonies during each of the quarters surveyed. The quarter of January-March 2017 showed Varroa mites at 21.4 percent. The quarter of July-September 2016 experienced the highest percentage of the six quarters at 39.1 percent. The quarter of April-June 2017 at 19.8 percent was the lowest percentage.

Leave a Comment August 15, 2017

Varroa mites – bees’ archenemies – have genetic holes in their armor

From: Michigan State University

Contact(s): Layne Cameron, Zachary Huang

Seemingly indestructible Varroa mites have decimated honeybee populations and are a primary cause of colony collapse disorder, or CCD.

Michigan State University scientists have found genetic holes in the pests’ armor that could potentially reduce or eliminate the marauding invaders. The team’s results, published in the current issue of Insect Science, have identified four genes critical for survival and two that directly affect reproduction.

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Leave a Comment August 14, 2017

Some happier news, for a change, on honeybees’ health and colony collapse

From: MinnPost

By Ron Meador


The big headline, I think, is that commercial beekeepers’ losses to the mysterious colony collapse disorder (CCD) were down 27.2 percent, year over year, for the first three months of 2017. Because winter is especially hard on ailing bees, the first quarter is usually, though not always, the worst for such die-offs.


Those last two factors, a mite and a fungus, are significant parasites on honeybees, and according to the USDA’s new stats varroa mites were “the number one stressor” reported by commercial beekeepers, defined as those who keep five or more hives.

Leave a Comment August 11, 2017

Better Bee Living Through Monitoring

From: CBC News

Alberta bees bounce back as monitoring leads to healthier hives

Alberta’s bee population has been recovering since a 2007 infestation wiped out thousands of colonies

Bees in Alberta are making a comeback a decade after being hit by a mite infestation and a harsh winter that depleted hives by 30 per cent in the province.

The population has increased from 223,000 hives in 2007 to 305,000 in 2016, Medhat Nasr, an apiculturist with Alberta’s agriculture ministry, told CBC News Tuesday.

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Leave a Comment August 10, 2017

2017 North American Mite-A-Thon

From: Pollinator Partnership


Mite-A-Thon is a national effort to collect mite infestation data and to visualize varroa infestations in honey bee colonies across North America within a one week window.  All beekeepers will be asked to participate, creating a rich distribution of sampling sites in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.  Their varroa monitoring data will be uploaded to

The parasitic mite, Varroa destructor (varroa), and the viruses it vectors is a significant driver of this honey bee colony mortality. Yet, indicators suggest that many beekeepers are not monitoring honey bee colony varroa infestations and therefore not able to connect infestation to colony loss.

Leave a Comment August 9, 2017

Technology tracks ‘bee talk’ to help improve honey bee health

From: Simon Fraser University Press Release
Simon Fraser University researcher Oldooz Pooyanfar has developed a bee monitoring system to study honey bee health. Credit: SFU

Simon Fraser University graduate student Oldooz Pooyanfar is monitoring what more than 20,000 honeybees housed in hives in a Cloverdale field are “saying” to each other — looking for clues about their health.

Pooyanfar’s technology is gleaning communication details from sound within the hives with her beehive monitoring system — technology she developed at SFU. She says improving knowledge about honey bee activity is critical, given a 30 per cent decline in the honeybee population over the past decade in North America. Research into the causes of what is referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder continues. The presence of fewer bees affects both crop pollination and the environment.

Leave a Comment August 8, 2017

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