Mites Responsible For Honey Bee Virus
Honey bees have estimated worth of about $15-$20 billion annually in the United States alone. The monetary value alone is enough to explore the causes of deformed wing virus caused by mites, which inhibits the honey bee from properly pollinating flowers.
The findings could have implications in the ongoing investigation about the alarming number of colony collapses.
According to the scientists, the virus mutates and infects bee colonies. It's frequency increases from 30 percent to 100 percent.The deformed wing virus is one of 18 known viruses affecting the honey bee.
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According to Dr. Stephen Martin, "Just 2,000 mites can cause a colony containing 30,000 bees to die. The mite is the biggest problem worldwide for bee keepers; it's responsible for millions of colonies being killed."
"Deformed Wing Virus is naturally transmitted in bees through feeding or sex but the mites change the disease so it becomes more deadly, shortening the bees' lives."
"Understanding the changing viral landscape that honey bees and other pollinators face will help beekeepers and conservationists worldwide protect these important insects. We have discovered what happens at the start of an infection. The goal is to understand how the infection comes about so that we can control it."
Honey bees are an integral part of an ecosystem. They pollinate and help breed many of the flowers and flora that we enjoy today.
The mite-driven disease might have much to do with the recent string of colony collapse disorder and the over-wintering colony losses that have been plagueing honey bees recently.