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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Microbial Control of Invasive Arthropod Pests of Bees

Author
item James, Rosalind

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: October 3, 2007
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Honey bees are critical to world agriculture by providing crop pollination service, but are also important to European-American cultures, where the industriousness and social behavior of this insect has historically been used in politics and religion. Unfortunately, the sustainability of this bee is threatened by an increasing number of invasive pests, particularly the tracheal mite, varroa mite, and small hive beetle. Integrated pest management has not been well utilized by beekeepers, partly due to a lack of biocontrol agents. Microbial control strategies have been investigated for varroa mites using fungal pathogens, but have produced variable results. Difficulties have arisen due to bees maintaining hives at temperatures that are detrimental to the fungi, the mites being able to avoid the fungi during breeding, and difficulties in producing highly virulent and persistent fungal spores in mass production. One option to investigate further is looking for pathogens of the pests in their native range, similar to what was done to introduce biological control to field crop pests. Also, pests that have part of their life cycle outside the hive, such as small hive beetles, may be more amenable to biocontrol.

Technical Abstract: Honey bees are critical to world agriculture by providing crop pollination service, but are also important to European-American cultures, where the industriousness and social behavior of this insect has historically been used in politics and religion. Unfortunately, the sustainability of this bee is threatened by an increasing number of invasive pests, particularly the tracheal mite, varroa mite, and small hive beetle. Integrated pest management has not been well utilized by beekeepers, partly due to a lack of biocontrol agents. Microbial control strategies have been investigated for varroa mites using fungal pathogens, but have produced variable results. Difficulties have arisen due to bees maintaining hives at temperatures that are detrimental to the fungi, the mites being able to avoid the fungi during breeding, and difficulties in producing highly virulent and persistent fungal spores in mass production. One option to investigate further is looking for pathogens of the pests in their native range, similar to what was done to introduce biological control to field crop pests. Also, pests that have part of their life cycle outside the hive, such as small hive beetles, may be more amenable to biocontrol.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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