British Scientist, An Expert in Bee Viruses Visits Volcano Island Honey

Posted on November 19, 2009 in Varroa Mite | Short Link

Dr_Stephen_MartinHawaii_On November 17, 2009, Dr. Stephen J. Martin of University of Sheffield in Western Bank, Sheffield, UK visited Volcano Island Honey Company. Dr. Martin is internationally recognized for his research on the biology and population dynamics of social insects (hornets and honeybees) and their pests, parasites and pathogens.

The Varroa Mite is spreading rapidly on the Big Island, and beekeepers are scrambling to learn how to manage and control the destructive pest.

Dr_Stephen_Martin_Hawaii_2Researchers know that colonies heavily infested with varroa mites have high levels of viruses including Chronic Paralysis virus, Acute Bee Paralysis virus, Kashmir bee virus and Deformed Wing Virus- but no one has studied the virus levels in specific colonies before the mite arrived and then after the mite infestation. Volcano Island Honey Company does not currently have varroa mites in our hives, therefore Dr. Martin is studying our colonies to get baseline virus levels before and after a varroa mite infestation.

Dr_Stephen_Martin_Hawaii_1

Of course, we are hoping we never have a mite infestation, but the scientists say, “We’ve heard that hope before,” and then they emphatically repeat “You will get the mites.”

Dr. Martin took samples of live bees and eggs from the brood nests of twenty of our colonies. He explained that a normal healthy colony has defenses against viruses that infect the bees through normal transmission channels, like the entering through the digestive system; but when the Varroa mite parasitically feeds on the bee pupa or adult bees it injects the virus into the pupa’s or adult’s bodily fluids from which the bee host has no defense.

Currently, the Varroa mite is spreading across the Big Island faster than anyone had predicted. And we are hoping against hope, and scientific evidence to the contrary, that this blight will pass us over.

Posted by Candice Choy and Andrea Dean

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6 Comments

  • Devin says:

    Sorry for my ignorance but I’ve got to wonder why, after all of these thousand of years, the bee has no natural defense against enemy such as mite? Why now and not before?

  • Scott says:

    The European Honeybee is not the natural host of the varroa mite.

  • buck says:

    i would be interested in knowing if you have had episodes of ccd on the islands, and if not are you having occasions of it now that the mites have arrived ??
    would be interesting if we could find out if the mite is responsible for the ccd we have stateside. or if it could be eliminated as a cause

    thanks in advance
    buck

  • admin says:

    Aloha Buck,

    We do not have ccd in Hawaii and hopefully we’ll never have. I believe ccd has a lot to do with the toxic chemicals – pesticide, herbicide, fertilizer etc. in the environment.

    Candice

  • skin says:

    stop hives…

    [...]British Scientist, An Expert in Bee Viruses Visits Hawaii | The Buzz Blog[...]…

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