Submitted to: BARC Poster Day
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 9, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
In addition to producing valuable honey, pollen, and wax, honey bees (Apis mellifera), provide important services as the pollinators of a diversity of U.S. crops, with a net economic value in the billions of dollars. In recent years, honey bee populations have been affected by a number of external and internal parasites, most notably parasitic mites. The impact of parasitic mites appears to be heightened by the actions of other honey bee pathogens, leading to the so-called parasitic-mite syndrome. One cofactor in parasitic-mite syndrome is the presence of honey bee-specific viruses. Honey bee viruses appear to act primarily during larval development, leading to the deformation of developing bees. We are determining the means by which viruses are passed from bee to bee, and hive to hive, an in effort to restrict the infection of new hives with viruses. On a broader scale, non-destructive assays are being developed to allow honey bee queen breeders to ensure that queens they sell or receive are free of viruses. A close relationship between plant and bee RNA viruses suggests that we can borrow control strategies used to identify and fight plan viruses. This project is part of a multifaceted approach toward reducing parasites and maintaining healthy honey bee stocks for U.S. farmers and beekeepers.