The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Biology Research Abuzz

June 15, 2017

From: UNCG NOW

Postdoctoral researchers Kaira Wagoner and Esmaeil Amiri insert new frames into an experimental hive at UNCG’s beeyard. 

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UNCG Professor of Biology Olav Rueppell and his research team have just received a nearly $1 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate honey bees’ natural defenses against their main pest, the Varroa mite, and how to activate them.

Varroa mites are tiny, amber-colored circular creatures that live on the bodies of the honey bees. They feed on the bees’ blood and amplify a colony’s level of infection from illnesses such as Deformed Wing Virus or Israeli Acute Paralysis.

“Bee health started to decline significantly about a decade ago in the U.S. for unknown reasons,” Rueppell said. “So that caused a lot of awareness and research. Now we understand that there’s not one single factor, but it’s a perfect storm where multiple factors interact to decrease honey bee health, and in some cases lead to the collapse of entire colonies.”

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