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September 29 2012

Honey Bees Fight Back Against Varroa


The parasitic mite Varroa destructor is a major contributor to the recent mysterious death of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Genome Biology finds that specific proteins, released by damaged larvae and in the antennae of adult honey bees, can drive hygienic behavior of the adults and promote the removal of infected larvae from the hive.

V. destructor sucks the blood (hemolymph) of larval and adult bees leaving them weakened and reducing the ability of their immune systems to fight off infections. Not that honey bees have strong immune systems in the first place since they have fewer immunity genes than solitary insects such as flies and moths. These tiny mites can also spread viral disease between hosts. This double onslaught is thought to be a significant contributor to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

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