Chance Discovery Can Destroy The Honeybee’s Worst Enemy

V. destructor on a honeybee hostUSDA

❝ It isn’t just pesticides and the destruction of habitat that’s making the world’s honeybees very unhappy. One of the biggest threats is Varroa destructor, a disease-spreading parasite that is just as villainous as its name suggests.

❝ Through a chance discovery, scientists from the University of Hohenheim have stumbled on a new method of wiping out this parasitic pest without harming the bees.

The US Department of Agriculture views the Varroa mite as “the major factor underlying colony loss in the US and other countries.” After infiltrating a colony, the mites begin to feed on the bodily fluids of honeybees and their larvae. Along with weakening the bees, the mites also spread viruses, such as deformed wing virus, and can quickly wipe out entire colonies…

❝ “Lithium chloride can be used to feed bees in sugar water. In our experiments, even small amounts of saline solution were enough to kill the mites sitting on the bees within a few days – without side effects for the bees,” Dr Peter Rosenkranz, head of the German State Institute of Apiculture…

RTFA for hope and diligence, science applied to sensible ends.

Thanks, smartalix

5 thoughts on “Chance Discovery Can Destroy The Honeybee’s Worst Enemy

  1. Mike says:

    New Mexico is losing honeybees at an alarming rate, and this winter has local beekeepers even more worried. Since it’s been warmer than usual, the bees have remained active, which makes them eat more. However, when they go out foraging, there isn’t any food and they’re dying.
    “The bees were eating food, the honey in their hives too fast so local beekeepers are very worried about their hives this winter,” said Jessie Brown, President of the New Mexico Beekeepers Association. Brown says the United States lost one-third of its honeybees last winter, and so did New Mexico.
    “Native bees: In the wilds of Taos, scientific discoveries abound”,43041 New Mexico has about a fourth of the bees found on the continent, or 1,000 species. And Taos County — though official databases list fewer than 40 species — is likely home to at least 400 species of bees. We know next to nothing about them,” however, said Lillis Urban, a botanist and ecologist with the Bureau of Land Management, the agency behind Olivia Messinger Carrila’s ongoing foundational survey of native bees in the Río Grande del Norte National Monument, which is the first major survey of native bees in Northern New Mexico.

      • Aha! says:

        The mushroom dream of a ‘long-haired hippie’ could help save the world’s bees (The Seattle Times Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018) “… In research published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, Stamets turned intuition into reality. The paper describes how bees given a small amount of his mushroom mycelia extract exhibited remarkable reductions in the presence of viruses associated with parasitic mites that have been attacking, and infecting, bee colonies for decades.
        In the late 1980s, tiny Varroa mites began to spread through bee colonies in the United States. The mites — which are parasites and can infect bees with viruses — proliferate easily and cause colony collapse in just years.
        Over time, colonies have become even more susceptible, and viruses became among the chief threats to the important pollinators for crops on which people rely.
        “We think that’s because the viruses have evolved and become pathogenic and virulent,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a University of Maryland professor in entomology, who was not involved in the mycelium research. “Varroa viruses kill most of the colonies in the country.”
        He likened the mites to dirty hypodermic needles; the mites are able to spread viruses from bee to bee.”
        See also “Bees ‘self-medicate’ when infected with some pathogens” (North Carolina State University 2012)

  2. Otto Plath says:

    The honeybee’s brain has about 1 million neurons. While that may sound like a lot, it’s pretty tiny compared to other species. A mouse brain has about 75 million neurons. Humans have 100 billion, or 100,000 times more.
    Yet even with this small hardware, the bee brain is capable of accomplishing many complex tasks. One of them is basic math.
    In a new study in Scientific Advances, scientists in Australia have shown that honeybees can add and subtract if trained to do so. It shows animals don’t need a huge brain — or anything even resembling human language — to think in terms of numbers. “We propose that language and prior advanced numerical understanding are not a prerequisite necessary for the ability to calculate addition and subtraction solutions,” the study’s authors conclude.
    See “Numerical cognition in honeybees enables addition and subtraction” also “A Treatise on the Management of Bees” by Thomas Wildman (1768).

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