Cannibal Honeybees Target Deadly Varroa Mites

August 22, 2016


When it comes to preserving honeybee colonies, many beekeepers succeed in fighting off certain threats to bees but struggle with others, and the varroa mite, a parasite and vector for viruses that is believed to be a major cause of colony collapse disorder, has been a consistent threat to honeybees since the late 1980s. While most focus on the threat pesticides present, real progress is being made in building up bees’ resistance to varroa mites, thanks in large part to the efforts of Jeff Harris, a beekeeper and research apiculturist from Mississippi State University. With this resistance to varroa mites comes a crucial trait—the ability to destroy invading mites within a hive by cannibalizing other bees infected with mites.


“The Europeans had been dealing with the varroa for 25 years before we got it in the US,” Harris said. “And they had been trying to breed for resistance without success. A varroa-resistant line of honeybees was the holy grail in our industry.” Harris’s team developed a technique using mite-infested worker bees from many different colonies, subdividing the mixture of bees and mites to form new, uniform colonies, the only difference between the colonies being minor genetic differences in the queen bees. They monitored mite populations in the colonies over 10-week to 16-week periods.

Read Complete Article

Leave a Comment

(not required for anonymous comments)

(optional; will not be published)

Please Answer: *


Submit a Post

Upload Files