Parasite-Free Honey Bees Enable Study of Bee Health

Phys.org   By A'ndrea Elyse Messer   July 1, 2014

An international team of researchers has discovered honey bee colonies in Newfoundland, Canada, that are free of the invasive parasites that affect honey bees elsewhere in the world. The populations offer a unique opportunity to investigate honey bee health, both with and without interfering interactions from parasites.

"Invasive parasites—such as Nosema ceranae, a fungus, and Varroa destructor, a mite—have incurred heavy economic penalties on the honey bee industry via colony losses and reduced productivity of surviving colonies, and both parasites threaten global food security because of reduced pollination services to agriculture," said Nancy Ostiguy, associate professor of entomology, Penn State. "The extent to which these detriments are attributable to specific parasite species is difficult to assess, however, because of the occurrence of multiple parasites within honey bees. Studying the effects of these parasites is even more challenging because few areas in the world have western honey bee colonies that are free of invasive parasites."

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