Varroa Mites Feed Primarily on Honeybee Fat Body Tissues

Dr. Samuel Ramsey who presented his ground breaking work on Varroa Mites to our monthly meeting on February 13, 2018 published his work this week.  The post about his presentation https://hocoba.com/samuel-ramseys-video/ is the most viewed publication on this website.  I has attracted international attention to the site.

 

A parasite called the varroa mite (Varroa destructor) is the most serious pest of European honeybees (Apis mellifera) worldwide. For decades, scientists have assumed that varroa mites feed on honeybee hemolymph (blood). But a new study suggests that these parasites instead have a voracious appetite for a honeybee organ called the fat body, which serves many of the same vital functions carried out by the human liver, while also storing food and contributing to bees’ immune systems.

“Bee researchers often refer to three Ps: parasites, pesticides and poor nutrition. Many studies have shown that varroa is the biggest issue. But when compromised by varroa, colonies are also more susceptible to the other two,” said study lead author Dr. Samuel Ramsey, a researcher in the Department of Entomology at the University of Maryland.

“Now that we know that the fat body is varroa’s target, this connection is now much more obvious. Losing fat body tissue impairs a bee’s ability to detoxify pesticides and robs them of vital food stores. The fat body is absolutely essential to honeybee survival.”

In addition to breaking down toxins and storing nutrients, honeybee fat bodies produce antioxidants and help to manage the immune system.

 

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