It is a reality that goods are shipped regularly around the world. Among the goods traded are agricultural products that are grown where the conditions are favorable and then transported to distant lands. The goods are often transported in shipping containers that can be passed from one carrier to another without unloading the contents. The containers are carried across the oceans in ships that arrive in deep-water ports. The same containers can be transferred to railroad cars or trucks for transport to terminals where the goods can be distributed to stores, markets, or processors of foods. The process efficiently moves goods around the world; however, it sometimes moves unwanted pests and pathogens as well. A number of foreign insects, mites, and pathogens have entered the United States in recent years, often as a result of world trade. Two species of deadly parasitic mites were detected in the mid-1980s. Their arrival started the rapid decline in both managed and feral colonies of honey bees. Varroa mites are responsible for vectoring at least 15 viruses that weaken and kill honey bees. Africanized honey bees have been traced to deep-water ports in the South-east. As researchers began looking for causes of the greatest die-off of honey bees, named Colony Collapse Disorder, they found a new strain of Nosema disease, Nosema ceranae, had entered the United States. This strain is a spore-forming pathogen of the Asian honey bee. Small hive beetles, bee hive scavengers from Africa whose larvae destroy honeycomb and drive honey bees from their nest, entered this country about 1999 and spread rapidly across the country. Their spread was aided by transportation of honey bee hives for pollination service.
While world trade has the potential for the accidental spreading of agricultural pests, pathogens, and invasive species, it also brings beekeepers of the world closer through the exchange of ideas and experience in treating honey bee problems. Today’s photo shows one of the shipping containers that pass Peace Bee Farm daily.--Richard