Ooooooh, could we finally have some good news in the battle against honey bee parasite #1, varroa destructor? Scottish scientists have just made a breakthrough that could prove invaluable in getting rid of the little blood suckers.
Yesterday, the researchers from Aberdeen University and the National Bee Unit (part of the Food and Environment Research Agency), revealed that they have figured out how to “knock down” genes in varroa destructor, actually killing it by turning the parasite’s natural defenses on itself. So far, all of this promising research has only taken place in a controlled lab setting, but the team has just been awarded £250,000 (around $399,000) in funding to develop a product to help beekeepers worldwide in effectively eliminating varroa destructor populations. The money has been provided by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Vita (Europe) Ltd.
Dr. Alan Bowman who is leading the research states that, “There is an urgent need to develop a varroa-specific, environmentally friendly treatment or some method of overcoming the varroa’s resistance mechanism to existing treatments and that’s what we are now working towards.”
Let’s all hope that whatever treatment they develop gets rid of varroa, but is still safe for the bees and their honey supply.