Invasive mite worsens honeybee viruses

Parasite’s move into Hawaiian islands lets obscure pathogen go big and bad

4:46pm, June 8, 2012

A mite that parasitizes honeybees can turn formerly small-time, local virus strains into widespread, dominant hazards.

As the Varroa destructor mite infiltrated Hawaiian bee colonies from 2007 to 2010, viral infection strength in local bees soared a million-fold, and a once-obscure but nasty strain of deformed wing virus surged to prominence. Even when beekeepers beat back the mite, the newly prominent virus remained abundant. Mite damage plus the virus shorten the lives of bees and can destroy colonies.

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