Study uncovers varroa enemies

Scientists at the University of Warwick are one step closer to finding a natural treatment that will stop the varroa mite from further damaging honeybee populations.

The mite caused losses of up to 50 per cent of honeybee colonies when it first arrived in the UK and is affecting the pollination of commercial crops. It feeds on the circulatory fluid of honeybee pupae and adult bees - activating and transmitting diseases which reduce the life expectancy of the bees and cause colony decline.

As part of a Defra-funded study a group of researchers from the plant research group Warwick HRI and Rothamsted Research has identified new natural enemies of varroa.

University of Warwick researcher Dr Dave Chandler said: "We needed to find fungi that were effective killers of varroa. Of the original 50 fungi we are now focusing on four that best match the necessary requirements." The team now hopes to secure more funding.


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