Bees are a pivotal part of our ecosystems and they are now under attack from various viruses and parasites.
In recent months, researchers and beekeepers have had to quarantine or even destroy bee colonies due to a virus that has been infecting whole hives. The virus comes from the Verroa Mite which was discovered in New South Wales, Australia in June. Since the discovery over 17,000 hives have needed to be destroyed in order to stop the spread.
How does the Verroa Mite spread and attack?
The Verroa Mite is a little parasitic mite that require a honeybee host to live, survive and reproduce. The female mites lay their eggs in each brood and are more likely to lay eggs in a brood of a drone bee. The larvae of the mite grows inside of the brood and feeds on the bee larvae. Once the bee has fully developed it is weak and easily succestible to changes in its environment as well as attacks from viruses. Adult mites will use an adult honey bee as their host.
In order for the Verroa Mite to spread, the host bee will fly to different hives and even fly to different apiaries. The host bee will then land in the hive and the mites will then spread from there. Once the mites have an entered a hive, they will slowly reproduce but the numbers will increase exponentially and it may not be until the third year until the mites can be readily detected
So, what does this mean for the honeybees? In Australia it is now being enforced that if there has been a Verroa Mite detection in a hive and the hive exists in a red-zone all the bees in the hive will need to be killed. This will help in the eradication of the Verroa Mite in Australia.
For the beekeepers there are programs set in place to move their hives into low-risk areas to ensure the survival of their bees. If the beekeepers needed to cull their hives, they will be reimbursed by the governement for their loss.