Saturday, 9 June 2012

Mites and Virus Team Up to Wipe Out Beehives

The spread of a parasitic mite through a honeybee colony provides a one-two punch that's taking down colonies throughout the world, now including Hawaii. A normally mild virus can be devastating to bees when the mites are present, a new study reports.

The mite, called Varroa, is spreading from hive to hive among the Hawaiian Islands. In other parts of the world, the coincidence of the mite and deformed wing virus has been linked to so-called colony collapse disorder, though researchers weren't sure how the two infections, normally not very deadly, were able to kill entire hives.

"During the past 50 years, the global spread of the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor has resulted in the death of millions of honeybee (Apis mellifera) colonies," the researchers write in their study, detailed today (June 7) in the journal Science.

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