Many advocates have been devising various solutions to the declining population of honeybees. Most of the blame has been put on the onset of the so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a condition where mature bee workers disappear from their colonies, leaving the queen, nurse, and baby bees alone to fend for themselves.
While it is natural for humans to be able to adapt to this kind of situation, bee colonies cannot survive without the worker bees. Pesticide abuse is considered the main reason behind this condition, causing countries around the world to regulate and even ban the use of harmful chemicals to save the endangered pollinators.
Unfortunately, scientists discovered that this isn’t the only cause of CCD as they discovered that varroa mites may have also played a role in the collapse of a bee colony.
What Are Varroa Mites?
According to bee life advocates like BeesVita Plus-maker Healthy Bees LLC, parasites are among the biggest threats to the pollinator’s population and one of them is called the varroa mites.
Also known as the varroa destructor, these parasites cause harm to various species of bees by transmitting harmful pathogens such as bacteria and viruses that put bee health in jeopardy.
The Battle Against Varroa Mites
In fact, massive beehive losses have been reported in the United Kingdom and the United States when these mites came to the territories in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively. Experts believe that the warming climate in these two powerful countries caused the increase of the population of varroa mites.
But where exactly did they come from? Based on bee data gathered by experts, varroa mites first came to light three decades ago in Japan when scientists observed that some bees were born without wings and were, therefore, banished from their hive. The cause of the condition, which is now called the “deformed wing virus,” was later found to be caused by pathogens carried by varroa mites.
Because of this, beekeepers have started to act on the problem by using chemicals to eradicate the pests after the honey was harvested. However, this inadvertently caused another problem after the breeding season of the pollinators was altered due to climate change.
It turned out that this change also allowed the varroa mites to reproduce as well, leaving beekeepers no other choice but to put the chemicals in the hive even before they harvest honey. Experts explained that these chemicals tend to affect the quality of honey and beeswax produced. Fortunately, one scientist was able to come up with a solution.
Chemical-Free Varroa Mite Eradication and High-Tech Monitoring
Professor Wolfgang Wimmer from the Austria-based firm ECODESIGN came up with a chemical-free solution to combat varroa mites in beehives. He based the solution to the fact that mites undergo metamorphosis like bees, where they enter the pupal stage before developing into full-grown bees from being a larva.
During this metamorphic stage, Wimmer discovered that bees can withstand intense heat— a fact that he exploited in his bee-safe solution on the varroa mite problem. Based on his findings, varroa mites die when exposed to high temperatures, whereas larval bees are unscathed, thanks to the cocoon they are wrapped in before they emerge as adult bees.
The ECODESIGN professor then developed a machine that can apply heat to hive frames that contain cells and exterminate varroa mites in just 2 hours.
While they may be the most threatening for bees, mites aren’t the only cause of the decline in the pollinator’s population. With that in mind, a French start-up firm has come up with a solution that will allow beekeepers to monitor the hives’ health using no less than a smartphone app.
The firm, Bee Angels, explained that their remote beehive monitoring system observes different factors that contribute to healthy hives, including the presence of parasites and bee fatigue.