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Bee health – a complex issue

No general answer for regional honey bee losses

Apr 29, 2015
Many factors have an impact on the honey bee’s health.

There is no such thing as the loss or the decline of honey bee populations, concludes Alexander J. McMenamin and Elker Genersch in their scientific publication “Honey bee colony losses and associated viruses”. The article was published in ScienceDirect and informs about winter losses and the so-called Colony Collapse Disorder – the complete collapse of a honey bee population.

The dimension of this year’s winter losses is not definitively recorded yet, but the alleged bee mortality is a widely discussed topic. However, bee mortality is not a new phenomenon – for many years now, the number of honey bee populations has fluctuated in some regions. Despite these regional losses, the global number of honey bee populations has been rising about 45 percent during the last 60 years.  

It is impossible to identify only one single factor that threatens the honey bees. McMenamin and Genersch inform about the multiple influences on the health of honey bees, such as nutrition, climatic conditions and diseases. Bee diseases are supposed to be a crucial factor. To date there are 23 known viruses, which can infect honey bees – for example the Acute Paralysis Virus or the Sacbrood Virus. The main pathogen vector is the mite Varroa destructor. Since the parasite was introduced, viral diseases among honey bees have risen dramatically. The illnesses can affect the behavior of the insects or even kill them. Still, the health state of honey bee populations worldwide cannot be regarded in generalized terms. McMenamin and Genersch point out: The phenomenon of declining populations has different dimensions, reasons and factors, which vary due to temporal and regional conditions.

Read here the full scientific publication from ScienceDirect

Read our article “What’s ailing honey bees”


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