Archives – October, 2015

A new hope in the battle against Varroa-associated honey bee collapse

From: The Marine Biolological Association

A honey bee colony in England which has survived a disease that killed its neighbours, may provide a clue to the future management of these important pollinators.


Viruses play an extremely important role in controlling host populations. DWV is closely related to a marine virus studied by the MBA’s Schroeder Research Group. DWV particles are not all identical, but made up of a swarm of three major variants (one of which was recently discovered by the authors). However, advances in sequencing technology have enabled the discovery of a unique viral dynamic in Swindon where a less deadly variant of DWV seems to prevent the entry of a more harmful variant, which may explain how these honey bees have survived.

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Leave a Comment October 29, 2015

Superinfection exclusion and the long-term survival of honey bees in Varroa-infested colonies

From: The ISME Journal | Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology

Gideon J Mordecai1,2, Laura E Brettell3, Stephen J Martin3, David Dixon1, Ian M Jones2 and Declan C Schroeder1


Over the past 50 years, many millions of European honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies have died as the ectoparasitic mite, Varroa destructor, has spread around the world. Subsequent studies have indicated that the mite’s association with a group of RNA viral pathogens (Deformed Wing Virus, DWV) correlates with colony death. Here, we propose a phenomenon known as superinfection exclusion that provides an explanation of how certain A. mellifera populations have survived, despite Varroa infestation and high DWV loads. Next-generation sequencing has shown that a non-lethal DWV variant ‘type B’ has become established in these colonies and that the lethal ‘type A’ DWV variant fails to persist in the bee population. We propose that this novel stable host-pathogen relationship prevents the accumulation of lethal variants, suggesting that this interaction could be exploited for the development of an effective treatment that minimises colony losses in the future.

Leave a Comment October 28, 2015

Going after “enemy no.1” for honey bees

From: Southwest Journal

By: Dylan Thomas

The U of M’s Bee Lab is raising awareness about varroa mites, a deadly pest for honey bees

DOWNTOWN WEST — The University of Minnesota’s Bee Squad aims to raise awareness this fall about a tiny parasite that is one of the biggest threats to Minnesota honey bee colonies.

Varroa mites are “enemy no. 1” for honey bees, said Bee Squad Associate Program Director Becky Masterman, who on Monday used the two beehives atop Minneapolis City Hall to demonstrate a fast and easy way to test for an infestation. Both beehives showed signs of a “heavy infestation” that could spread to nearby hives, Masterman said.

Leave a Comment October 27, 2015

Canadian Entomology Research Roundup: June 2015 – September 2015

From: ESC Blog | Official Blog of the Entomological Society of Canada

Posted by escstudents

As part of a continuing series of Canadian Entomology Research Roundups, here’s what some Canadian entomology grad students have been up to lately:

Ecology and Evolution

Rasoul Bahreini (University of Manitoba) found that honeybee breeding can improve tolerance to Varroa mites which can help minimize colony losses in the winter and improve overwintering performance (Article link). Rasoul also found that reducing ventilation may be an effective way to manage Varroa mite infestation in overwintering honeybee colonies (Article link), and that Nosema infection restrained Varroa removal success in bees (Article link).

Leave a Comment October 26, 2015

Biting Back

From: On Earth

Backyard breeders are creating a new kind of hero honeybee—one that chomps off the legs of mites and saves the hive.


A varroa mite on the head of a bee nymph

While the sight of a body missing one or more legs may cause most people to shudder, nothing makes Dan O’Hanlon happier—especially when the body belongs to a varroa mite. The tiny bloodsucking parasite has been terrorizing his beehives in West Virginia—and many others across the country—for decades. So when he finds the sticky board he’s placed inside his hives littered with the amputees, it’s proof the experiment he’s been participating in is working.

Leave a Comment October 23, 2015

Could Beer Save The Honeybees?

From: Think Progress

The fight to save honeybees has gotten boosts recently from the USDA, the White House, and researchers who are still working to determine why managed honeybees continue to die off. Now, bees have one more thing on their side: beer.

Or, at least, one of the main ingredients of beer. This week, the EPA approved the use of potassium salts of hops beta acids (HBAs) — a biochemical (or naturally-occurring) pesticide that’s derived from hops, the flowers of the plant Humulus lupulus — around honeycombs. Research has shown that HBAs have potential for repelling varroa mites, a dangerous mite that attaches itself to honeybees and sucks out their circulatory fluid. Varroa mites weaken bees and spread debilitating diseases, including deformed wing virus, which causes crumpled up, useless wings in young bees.

Leave a Comment October 22, 2015

National Bee Pest Surveillance Program to be reviewed [Australia]

From: ABC Rural

By Fiona Pepper

A review is underway into the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program.

Australia is the only country yet to contract the destructive bee pest, the Varroa mite, unlike neighbouring countries such as New Zealand, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

However, Australia trades with these countries, and therefore there is a high risk that infected bees could travel by cargo ship and enter Australia undetected.

Audio: Plant Heath Australia, project officer Sam Malfroy discussing the review of the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (ABC Rural)

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Leave a Comment October 21, 2015

Neonicotinoid pesticides shown to have little effect on honeybee populations

From: Crop Protection News


In several countries in Europe, neonicotinoid pesticides have become the subject of regulatory action, and officials in the United States are considering the same route.


The new data also showed that a number of pesticides are available, including the neonicotinoid acetamiprid, that could control tarnished plant bugs, stink bugs, aphids and mites with limited — if any — harm to bees. Consequently, the researchers questioned the logic of putting regulatory measures on neonicotinoids — and no other pesticides.

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Leave a Comment October 20, 2015

Varroa mite wreaks havoc in Swiss bee colonies

From: BEEKeeper Tom’s Blog

Swiss are hoping for a cold autumn and spring after last year’s mild temperatures turned honeycombs into honeyed tombs – mostly because of the mite, which feeds on healthy bees.

The past few years have been tough for bee colonies almost everywhere. For example, colony collapse disorder was a massive problem in the United States in 2007. But this year has proven disastrous for honeybees and their keepers in Switzerland. A study of a thousand Swiss hives shows that  50 per cent of the bees did not survive the winter of 2011-2012.

Leave a Comment October 19, 2015

The heat, the Varroa mite and the Asian WaSP reduce the production of honey in Spain

Editor’s Note: Translated from the Spanish via Bing.

From: Ecoticias

Spring and summer warmer than normal, the varroa disease and attacks by Asian WaSP to the hives are the main causes that beekeepers attributed the decline in the production of honey in the campaign of 2015, calculating between 25 and 35 per cent. As explained to Europa Press the beekeeper and member of the Spanish Association of beekeeping mark Negrete campaign “has been quite badly” because vellutina scooter and the varroa mite generated “tremendous problems”, which is compounded by the weather.

Leave a Comment October 16, 2015

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