University: Marianas honeybees remain healthy

July 21, 2016

From: The Guam Daily Post

Samples from bee colonies test free of deformed wing virus

The University of Guam College of Natural and Applied Sciences (CNAS) is uncovering some very interesting information about honeybee health in the Mariana Islands.

Chris Rosario, research associate with the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center at CNAS, has been surveying bees on Guam and in the region as part of the Honeybee Health Survey funded by USDA-APHIS.

Rosario has been sampling domestic and feral hives to verify the presence or absence of the parasitic mite Varroa destructor, which uses its piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed on the blood of honeybees and their larva.

Beekeepers fear finding the mite in their bee colonies as many bees die or are born with deformities caused by viruses carried by this mite.

The Varroa mite spreads the deformed wing virus in bee colonies, which causes wing deformity in honeybees and has a negative impact on their immune systems.

To date, the mites have not been found on Guam, but have been found in some bee colonies from Saipan and Tinian.

Rosario has been sending samples of the Varroa mites he has found on Saipan and Tinian to Dr. Ethel Villalobos at the University of Hawaii.

“It is interesting how a region where Varroa mites are found living in bee colonies that neither the bees nor the mites test positive for deformed wing virus,” said Villalobos.

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