Gut parasite threatens bees down under

New Zealand researchers discover a new parasite that weakens honey bees

Aug 06, 2015
Bee researchers examine how pathogens influence bee health

Apiarist Dr. Oksana Borowik, in the Coromandel region in New Zealand, recently observed an increased mortality of her bee colony and called John Mackay’s diagnostic laboratory for help. After taking a close look at her honey bees she found the reason: A parasite called Lotmaria passim had infected the bees’ intestines and made them ill.
The infestation of this parasite had not been observed in New Zealand so far. Mackay’s diagnosis is a great advance for bee research. Professor Peter Dearden, bee geneticist at the University of Otago, applauded the researchers’ work. He thinks that searching for pathogens is still an important issue: "We have bee deaths occurring that are unusual and there are signs that there are pathogens involved that we haven't identified before. Those two things give us reason for concern for what is happening there."
It is known that bees also suffer from the fungus Nosema ceranae. And the bee researcher has now found that the infestation of New Zealand’s bee colonies is especially high. Dearden is concerned: "This is not a slight increase; it has been quite a large increase in pathogens," he said. So far, the bee experts are uncertain about the connection between the increased bee mortality in some regions and these pathogens – and they still have to find a way to fight the problem.

Read the whole article “Bee geneticist applauds work of researchers“.

You can find the news report on Radio New Zealand here.

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