Honey Bee Diseases Strike in All Seasons

USDA/ARS  February 5, 2015

Agricultural Research Service scientists have found that two pathogens causing mysterious honey bee ailments are not just a problem in the spring, but might pose a threat year round. Entomologists Ryan Schwarz and Jay Evans at the ARS Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, and their colleagues have shown that two species of bacteria, Spiroplasma melliferum and S. apis, are more common than thought and infect honey bees in places as diverse as Brazil and Maryland.

The two bacteria are often lumped together, since both are in the genus Spiroplasma, an intriguing class of bacteria found in some insects, ticks, and plants. S. melliferum was discovered in the late 1970s by ARS researchers who noticed higher mortality rates in bees carrying it. French researchers discovered S. apis a few years later and called it “May disease,” because that’s the month of year when it struck. It made bees “quiver and creep,” left some unable to fly, and in that instance... 


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