Previously Harmless, Mutated Varroa Species Is Now Killing European Honey Bees
A dangerous mutant gene in a previously harmless honeybee mite in Papua New Guinea has Australian beekeepers fearing for their future.
The Asian honeybee mite has undergone a genetic mutation which allows it to infest European honeybees.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization bee pathologist Denis Anderson tells the Australian Broadcasting Corp. the mite is one of a strain of Varroa mites which had never before been able to breed on the European honeybee, and thus had been no threat to horticulture.
Find out whatâ€™s happening and whatâ€™s new at Mann Lake now Now the mutant mites are running rampant through honeybee hives in Papua New Guinea, wiping out up to half the countryâ€™s honey industry.
The mutation is believed to have originated from a single female mite.
Anderson says based on experiences in the past, the mites will be also carrying exotic viral diseases.
Subscribe to the Apis Newsletter Today â€œThose viruses are actually what cause the death to the European honey bee colonies,â€ he says.
Australian Agriculture Minister Tony Burke is meeting Papua New Guinea officials in Brisbane and containment of the mite to prevent them from entering Australia will be on the agenda.
Burke tells reporters the government recognizes the importance of rigorous quarantine and biosecurity measures to protect Australia's agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries.
â€œIn November last year we announced an extra $300,000 over two years to continue the sentinel hive program,â€ he says. â€œThis is an important surveillance program for pests and disease in Australia's honey bee and pollination industries.â€
An Asian honeybee eradication campaign is continuing in Queensland two years after an incursion was found in Cairns. Thus far 28 hives have been destroyed.
The message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping