Hawaiian research serves as case study for watching evolution and spread of virus
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with recent studies showing that exposure to pesticides is affecting honeybee colonies, a new study suggests that an emerging virus, transmitted by parasitic mites, is another key factor in death of millions of bee colonies.
Researchers in Hawaii and the UK said they’ve pinpointed the Varroa mite as causing the “Deformed Wing Virus” to proliferate in honey bee colonies, probably contributing the worldwide loss of honeybee colonies. The current monetary value of honey bees as commercial pollinators in the United States alone is estimated at about $15-$20 billion annually.
The study shows how mites spread the virus to colonies by directly transmitting it to the bees, thereby bypassing some of the insects’ natural defenses. This change was accompanied by a million-fold increase in the number of virus particles infecting each honey bee and a massive reduction in viral strain diversity leading to the emergence of a single virulent strain. (more…)