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May 2015: The Varroa Gate - Protecting Honeybees

Friday, May 29, 2015

May 2015: The Varroa Gate - Protecting Honeybees

In recent years, news headlines worldwide have been lamenting the decline of honeybees. One of the major factors affecting beehive health and, as a result, the honeybees' decline, is the varroa mite. This tiny arachnid and ecto-parasite can wipe out entire bee colonies by transmitting dangerous bacteria and viruses to the beehive.

The varroa mite, Varroa destructor, is able to spread diseases, like ticks, by feeding on the blood (haemolymph) of its hosts and can invade nearby beehives by fastening onto forager bees and this allows them to be transported directly inside the beehive. Once inside the beehive, the varroa mite infests a brood cell and lays eggs. The offspring infects the bee pupae and young bees, and can impair their vitality.

To fight the varroa mite, scientists at Bayer in partnership with Prof. Nikolaus Koeniger and Dr. Gudrun Koeniger from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Germany have developed the Varroa Gate - an innovative approach to acaricide delivery which helps protect beehives against the varroa mite.

"The acaricide is embedded in a device that operates as the hive doorway - the Varroa Gate. As the bee moves through the Varroa Gate, the active ingredient is applied to the bee's legs and hair," says Dr. Klemens Krieger, parasitologist, Bayer Animal Health. "This application protects the bees against the varroa mite and with each gateway passing, the ingredients balance concentration levels to help provide effective protection at a level never more than necessary." The Varroa Gate is applied in late summer and autumn after honey extraction, when brood activity of the bees declines and the varroa mite burden affects beehives most.

To learn more about the Western honey bee's biggest enemy, watch this video.

Source & Image: © Bayer HealthCare Animal Health