Another suspect in bee colony deaths found - a parasitic mite that spreads viruses while feeding on the insects’ ’blood’
2012-06-14 0:00

By Rob Waugh |

Parasitic mites have ’turbo-charged’ the spread of a deadly virus that is killing honey bee colonies around the world.

Bee populations have been falling rapidly in many countries, fuelled by a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.

Many suspects have been named for bee colony collapse, including popular pesticides.

Now University of Sheffield scientists studied the impact of a parasitic mite arriving in a fresh territory - Hawaii - and concluded that it is a prime suspect, since it spreads viruses while feeding on hemolymph, or bee’s ‘blood’.

To clarify the link between mites and viruses, a team led by Stephen Martin of Britain’s University of Sheffield studied the impact of Varroa in Hawaii, which the mites have only recently invaded.

They found the arrival of Varroa increased the prevalence of a single type of virus, deformed wing virus (DWV), in honey bees from around 10% to 100%.

Bloodsuckers: The presence of the Varroa mite parasite increased the prevalence of a single type of virus, deformed wing virus (DWV), in honey bees from around 10% to 100%

At the same time the amount of DWV virus in the bees’ bodies rocketed by a millionfold and there was a huge reduction in virus diversity, with a single strain of DWV crowding out others.


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Bayer CropScience and Bee Deaths

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