Varroa Mites and Associated Honey Bee Diseases More Severe than Previously Thought

April 28, 2016

From: Entomology Today

Researchers from the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently completed the first comprehensive, multi-year study of honey bee parasites and disease as part of the National Honey Bee Disease Survey. Key findings, which are published in the journal Apidologie, show that the Varroa mite, a major honey bee pest, is far more abundant than previous estimates indicated and is closely linked to several damaging viruses. Also, the results show that the previously rare chronic bee paralysis virus has skyrocketed in prevalence since it was first detected by the survey in 2010.

“Poor honey bee health has gained a lot of attention from scientists and the media alike in recent years,” said Kirsten Traynor, a postdoctoral researcher in entomology at UMD and lead author on the study. “However, our study is the first systematic survey to establish disease baselines, so that we can track changes in disease prevalence over time. It highlights some troubling trends and indicates that parasites strongly influence viral prevalence.”

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