One Mighty Mean Mite

May 20, 2016

From: The Progressive Farmer | Production Blog

By Pam Smith, Crops Technology Editor


That fact was also confirmed by several pollinator studies that landed in my email last week. I’m a hobby bee wrangler by definition of these studies and since they’ve come out there have been multiple articles written about how to analyze the numbers and how the results are not comparable because the data is gathered differently. I get nervous when it takes more pages to describe how to interpret the results than the studies themselves.

Still, what I gathered from all these reports is what I’ve long suspected — the biggest culprit in colony losses is varroa mite. The main diet of this horrible insect is the blood of developing bee larvae. The mites are the equivalent of dirty hypodermic needles spreading viruses. Beekeepers ranked it far and away the biggest contributor to bee losses in the recent USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service survey, developed as part of the Pollinator Research Action Plan. Similar results were found in a recent Bee Informed Partnership study and a separate USDA/University of Maryland survey on honeybee diseases. Nosema, a fungal parasite that give bees the bellyache, was also highly implicated.

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