Dean Forest Beekeepers are committing funds to a new project to help beekeepers deal with the major pest affecting our bees, the varroa mite. This 10 minute film from a recent BBC Spotlight programme gives an introduction.
We will be contributing £300 a year for the next 3 years to BDI (Bee Diseases Insurance Ltd), the organisation which provides insurance against colony losses for UK beekeepers, to support ground breaking research into the relationship between the honey bee and the parasitic varroa mite, in a project code named REViVe. (Rolling out the Evolution of resistance to Varroa and DWV).
The project will be undertaken jointly by Dr. Declan Schroeder from The Marine Biological Association (The MBA) based in Plymouth, and Prof. Stephen Martin from The School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Salford University.
Initial research into a UK population of varroa tolerant bees (at the Swindon Honeybee Conservation Group, founded by Ron Hoskins), suggests that a new equilibrium between the honey bees, deformed wing virus (DWV) and varroa has been established which may help to explain the long term survival of a their mite resistant colonies. Full details of the work have been published here: ISME 27 October 2015
The new project will look at what happens to colonies of resistant bees that are moved into other areas. This work is important, as it is not only necessary to be able to identify what enables these bee populations to survive untreated for varroa, but also to be able to work on the mechanisms that would enable these traits to be assimilated into the wider bee populations.