Posted: 09 Jun 2011 09:22 AM PDT
A new study of health honey bees by researchers at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) has found four new viruses in bees, six species each of bacteria and fungi, four types of mites, and a parasitic fly called a phorid, which had not been seen in honey bees outside California.
The 10-month study followed 20 colonies in a commercial beekeeping operation of more than 70,000 hives as they were transported across United States for crop pollination. The goal was to answer one basic question: what viruses and bacteria exist in a normal colony throughout the year? — establishing a baseline for further research into Colony Collapse Disorder.
Colony Collapse Disorder, unlike other traditional causes of honeybee losses, is characterized by colonies with capped brood and queen which have been abandoned by the workers. Food stores (honey and pollen) in the affected hives are not immediately robbed out by other bees, and hive pests such as wax moth and small hive beetle are slow to move in.
The causes are still unknown, although recent research has pointed to a combination of stressors such as long-distance transportation, varroa mite infestations, and fungi or viruses, as most likely culprits.
While this study did not identify the cause of CCD, it did offer a measurement of the normal levels of pathogens.
"We brought a quantitative view of what real migrating populations look like in terms of disease," said senior author Dr. Joseph DeRisi. "You can't begin to understand colony die-off without understanding what normal is."
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Four New Viruses Found in US Honey Bees was written and published by the Central Beekeepers Alliance - Honey Bees & Beekeeping in New Brunswick, Canada. For more information, please visit http://cba.stonehavenlife.com.
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