Saturday, April 3, 2010

Parasites Spread Viruses

Social creatures rely heavily upon communications to maintain organization, perform work, gather and distribute food, and protect the social group. Humans and honey bees are both social creatures; and both employ complex, but different, forms of communications. For humans, sharing a world-wide community, much of the communications is of electronic form. The internet allows beekeepers and other people interested in bees and the environment to share their acquired knowledge and experience rapidly with people around the world. We can communicate easily with people who, until recent years, would have been separated from us by miles and travel costs. Available translation programs even allow us to communicate with others who speak different languages. Today we highly value our communications. I have been out of touch with the distant world due to a malicious computer virus that was deliberately designed to interrupt electronic communications. Yes, it was effective in stopping my computer for a while. I hope that the individuals who seek to block our communications will re-direct their skill toward broadening our world, not limiting it.

If we click on today’s photo, we can see a drone bee carrying a honey bee virus. Shirley Murphy and I found the bee suffering from Deformed Wing Virus while examining her Tennessee River bees. Deformed Wing Virus is spread by parasitic mites. While these parasites are sucking nutrients from honey bees, they are also exposing them to a number of pathogens, namely more than a dozen viruses. Some of these viruses are suspected to be involved in Colony Collapse Disorder. Unlike complex computer viruses designed to do harm, honey bee viruses are simple microbes which reproduce themselves. Colonies heavily infected by viruses are described as having Parasitic Mite Syndrome. They often dwindle and die. This drone bee with deformed wings will be removed from the hive by the colony and will live less than one day. Beekeepers are selecting and breeding honey bees that can detect and remove parasites from the hive

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