Hawaii honey bee die-off points to likely culprits—Not pesticides, but varroa and viruses

June 10, 2016

From: Genetic Literacy Project

Although honey bee numbers are no longer in decline—overall numbers have been trending up for the past four years and are at record global highs—their health globally is still impacted by significant pressures. That’s led some environmental groups to blame pesticides for regional bee population declines. However, a number of recent reports points away from pesticides toward a viral cause.

The latest—researchers from the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture last month released the first comprehensive, multi-year study of honey bee parasites and disease as part of the National Honey Bee Disease Survey. Published in the journal Apidologie, the survey points to the varroa mite, a major honey bee pest, as a driving factor in bee health. The mite is far more abundant than previous estimates indicated and is closely linked to several damaging viruses.

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