Honeybees in East Africa Resist Deadly Pathogens

April 21, 2014

From: National Geographic

Bees in Kenya stay healthy despite parasites and viruses that collapse U.S. and European hives.

Jennifer S. Holland

A surprising finding about East African honeybees lends new hope to the fight against colony collapses in the West. Scientists have discovered that bees in Kenya have strong resistance to the same pathogens responsible for the deaths of billions of bees elsewhere in the world. (See “Gold Dusters” in National Geographic magazine.)

Entomologist Elliud Muli, a beekeeping expert at the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), teamed up with researchers at Penn State University to survey beehives in all of Kenya’s major ecosystems: savanna, mountains, tropical coast, and desert. They measured the sizes of hives and the numbers of bees and tested them for parasites and pesticide contaminants.

In a paper published today in the online journal PLOS ONE, the researchers report that honeybees in Kenya are infested with the same nasty pests and diseases that wipe out hives elsewhere—but what’s surprising is that they don’t succumb. Hives remain healthy even where a combination of pathogens are present.

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