Research Boosts Honey Bee Protection Against Deadly Viruses
America’s honey bee population faces enormous stress. During 2022, nearly half the nation’s managed colonies were lost. A central threat is the Varroa mite, a parasite whose spread of viruses regularly triggers catastrophic colony loss.
However, new research findings by a group of scientists, including Husker entomologist Troy Anderson, could provide a breakthrough in combating the threat.
Through field study and cutting-edge biochemical analysis, the researchers have identified a specific drug treatment that stimulates honey bees’ immune systems and dramatically strengthens protection against mite-facilitated viral assault.
Infected honey bees that received the treatment, Anderson and his colleagues reported, “had similar survival rates as uninfected bees.” Once colonies received treatment at the proper level via the drug pinacidil, their viral infection rates were reduced “to levels comparable to non-inoculated colonies.”
The team, led by researchers at Louisiana State University, explained its findings in an article recently published in Virology Journal.