Honey bee microbiome probed

Researchers reveal several new viruses lurking in healthy hives.

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Jun 9, 2011

Apis melliferaUSDA

Scientists now have a clearer picture of the viruses, bacteria, and parasites that accompany honey bees as they perform essential pollination services for myriad commercial crops throughout North America and Europe. This week, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, published in PLoS ONE a comprehensive, long-term genomic study of the pathogens harbored by healthy hives traversing the United States, ferried by migrant bee keepers. They turned up four novel viruses, six bacteria, six fungi, and four mites fluctuating in prevalence on a seasonal basis in the more than 70,000 healthy hives they analyzed. Their results serve as a baseline for studying the mysterious malady, called Colony Collapse Disorder, that has hit hives across the world and decimated up to 90 percent of some US colonies.

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