Yet another tough winter for honeybees

March 31, 2017

From: Bangor Daily News

By Peter Cowin, Special to the BDN


The parasitic varroa mite has been a real problem for beekeepers, and it seems to be getting worse. It is becoming vital to treat for mites and check to see whether the treatments have worked.


Hive death because of mites is not just because the mites themselves damage the bees. Like a tick, mites infect their hosts with a variety of viruses. There are about 20 identified viruses passed to bees by mites. Colonies can generally cope with low or modest mite and virus loads in the spring and summer when weather is nice, and food is plentiful. Like us shaking off a cold, the colony can shake off mild virus infections if everything else is OK. However, if we are stressed a cold can develop into something much worse. Honeybee colonies respond in the same way. In fall the weather gets colder and food becomes more scarce, which stresses the bees, leaving them less able to fight off viruses. Colony death ensues.

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