Sunday, January 24, 2010

Finally, a suspect in bee decline... The Varroa Mite

Finally, a suspect in bee decline

Mites in carcasses cited by University of Guelph entomologist

Full story here.

In a report to be published in the journal Apidologie, Guzman identifies what killed them: the varroa mite, a crab-like parasite the size of a pen dot.

Abetted by poor bee populations and low food reserves for the winter, Guzman says, the bee bloodsucker is without question why colonies in Ontario, at least, are dwindling so fast.

Ed Nowek of Planet Bee apiaries in Vernon, B.C., ventures the same conclusion for his side of the country. "I've never seen it so hard to keep bees alive than in the past four to five years," he says of his 30-year run in the business."

Though the mite isn't new, beekeepers say what's most disconcerting is the probable cause behind its sudden explosion: a built-up resistance to the chemicals used to kill them. For the same reasons some hospital patients succumb to antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA, varroa has become the superbug of Canada's bees.


Phoebe said...

I think "finally" is a bit of a stretch. Varroa, nosema, foulbrood and a host of other bee diseases have been around for years. Studies have found that no single disease or parasite is behind colony collapse disorder and higher than usual winter bee kill.
You'll find that lately there has been growing recognition that poor nutrition, due to monoculture cropping, supplement feeding and falling biodiversity, has weakened bee populations and made them less able to fight off parasites and diseases.
Check out these links for more info:

Metro said...

I'm in agreement with with Phoebe.

The only mystery here is why journalists keep treating this issue like a big mystery.

If a person spends their life smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and eating doritos while watching TV on a couch, and then dies of a heart attack while walking to the convenience store, what killed them? Is "heart attack" an accurate description of cause of death?

In summary, the bee version goes something like this: You start with some fragile, inbred bees shipped from abroad. Next, you malnourish them with monoculture forage, and weaken them with residual pesticides. Next, Enter the varroa mite, who punctures the bee's carapace to feed, making the bee vulnerable to viruses, some of which are carried by the mite itself.

Finally, along comes the Israeli Actute Paralysis Virus to deal the death blow, and render the hive abandoned.

In the final analysis, I'd say that the cause of CCD lies in the nature of our agricutural practices.

- Metropropolis