Many of the viruses now being discovered in beehives are introduced by the varroa destructor, according to Philip Moore, a bee researcher at the University of Tennessee.

Philip Moore

Philip Moore

Moore spoke to the November meeting of the Blount County Beekeepers Association on Nov. 10 on emerging trends in honeybee health. The picture he painted is not a pretty one for bees or beekeepers.

There are more than 20 viruses that researchers are looking at that infect beehives, he said. Most of these — though not all — are introduced into the hives by varroa.

Moore made the following points during his talk:

  • For most of the viruses, a beekeeper is going to be unaware that they are there. When the hive starts showing symptoms of having a virus, it’s usually too late to do anything about it.
  • Beekeepers should be careful about taking frames from weak hives and putting them in strong hives. Doing this often brings viruses into the strong hive.
  • Beekeepers should inspect their hives regularly for any unusual activity or unusual-looking bees. These are indicators that something is wrong with the hive.
  • The most important thing a beekeeper can do to fight viruses is to try to keep the varroa levels in the hive at a minimum.
  • Some types of bees, such as Africanized bees or Russian bees, exhibit behaviors that help them fight varroa.

Moore said more information about all of this can be found at the University’s website: http://www.extension.org/bee_health.

Here’s an article that Moore co-authored with Michael Wilson, Dr. John Skinner about beehive viruses: http://www.extension.org/pages/71172/honey-bee-viruses-the-deadly-varroa-mite-associates#.VGM63vTF_fY

Key words: honeybees, beehives, bee health, Philip Moore, varroa, varroa destructor, beehive viruses, University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, Blount County Beekeepers Association, Russian bees, Africanized bees, beehive inspection, John Skinner, Michael Wilson

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