Combating Honey Bee Health Issues

Combating Honey Bee Health Issues

Ohio reported elevated numbers of bee losses throughout the winter.

There are a plethora of pathogens and viruses that currently threaten healthy numbers of honey bees across the nation.

Certain strains of viruses can enter the cell of a host creating more viruses. They can also change the way an organism expresses its genetic code which can lead to fatal abnormalities.

According to scientists, a virus that has infected one larvae has the capability to destroy thousands more.

Academic researchers at the University of Georgia claim that the best way to keep a healthy hive populous is to practice sanitary methods and replace components that illustrate signs of infection.

Remedies that would block a pathogen’s ability to impair RNA transcription are currently in the process of being developed. However, “until then,” say University researchers, “good sanitation practices are the key to prevention. Comb replacement and re-queening are the best practical responses to a virus infection.”

Another essential way to promote a healthy colony is to diagnose issues early. There are a handful of different diseases. Some effect brood larvae and others only attack adults. Recognize the symptoms and determine the source of the threat from there. For example, are you seeing bees with deformed wings? This could be the result of the presence of Varroa mites in the hive.

One of the most common diseases to afflict queens is the ‘Black Queen Cell Virus’ (BQCV). This specific parasite attacks queen larvae. Underdeveloped larvae die and become black in color after the cell is closed. According to researchers, there is a potential link between BQCV and Nosema, an infectious disease caused by parasites that effects the digestive tract of adult honey bees.

According to Bee Informed.org, “BQCV has been associated with Nosema and other viruses, but it is unclear is Nosema actually vectors (directly transmits) the virus or if the gut parasite merely takes advantage of an already sickened larvae.”

“Varroa infestations have also been linked to BQCV in the workers,” the web site adds.

Unfortunately, no vaccines or remedies to treat honey bee diseases exists. Even despite the exigency of declining honey bee numbers.

“Sanitation of grating tools (in ethanol or by flame), control of Varroa and Nosema, and well-fed breeders, starters, cell builders and mother colonies,” suggests Bee Informed, adding: “I have also heard from beekeepers that antibiotics like fumagillan or even terramycin can clear up BQCV symptoms, possibly because it disrupts the potential interaction with Nosema disease.”

The Department of Agriculture and Food in Western Australia recommend keeping people and equipment that do not meet your particular standards away from hives and apiaries.

“Restrict access to your apiary sites and extraction facilities,” the DAF reports. “Erect a sign that advises others of your biosecurity requirements. Inform others that vehicles used for beekeeping, supers with combs and used beekeeping equipment, and beehive products are not permitted on your premises or near your apiaries. Turn away people and machinery that do not meet your standards.”

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