Seed World

Breakthrough in Varroa-Resistant Honeybee Research

In an effort coordinated by the Arista Bee Research Foundation, a group of European beekeepers has bred the first generation of European honeybees that can detect the Varroa mite. This is an important step in breeding healthier, Varroa-resistant honeybees that can better survive in an already challenging environment, according to the foundation.
The Varroa mite creates a hole in the armor of the bee and directly weakens the bee by sucking out hemolymph (insect blood). Viruses and bacteria enter through this hole, causing disease and even early death. Untreated colonies often collapse within two years.
The United States Department of Agriculture has shown that it is possible to select honeybees with Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH) behavior — these bees can detect Varroa reproducing in the brood.
The next step in the breeding program, starting in the 2015 season, will be to aim for 100 percent VSH in the EU breeding stock.
The Arista Bee Research Foundation is a non-profit organization, scientifically supported by senior researchers from the USDA, the Kirchhain Bee Institute (Germany), the Hohen Neuendorf Bee Institute (Germany) and Wageningen University (the Netherlands).
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