The Varroa mite – a blind, eight-legged parasite – is smaller than a pinhead, but can kill an entire colony of bees. A new species of bee must bravely resist.
Both wild and large and small human-held bee populations are suffering. About 30 percent of the colonies do not survive due to pesticides, lack of food and disease. And one of the biggest concerns for beekeepers is a tiny red parasite.
Chemicals are often used against this animal. Not ideal and not functional, as most parasites become immune to these agents. What is also possible: raising bees that know how to deal with such a parasite.
That’s what the researchers did: they crossed bees to obtain an extra-gifted strain for pollination, honey-making and parasite hunting. This bee is extra good on her own, and the housemates check for the parasite and her eggs. And then get it out of the way.
The new species of bee isn’t yet available to beekeepers, first – and rightly so – more research is needed to be sure it doesn’t secretly also have harmful consequences.
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