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Australia's bee imports at risk due to corona pandemic


Queen bees from Europe are supposed to protect Australia's populations from the deadly Varroa mite. The animals are on the way by post - an often fatal journey during the corona pandemics.

Enlarge image

The bee colony runs over honeycombs

Photo: Marijan Murat / picture alliance / dpa

Australian beekeepers fear for the future of their animals in the face of the corona pandemic. There are still no Varroa mites on the continent that can destroy entire bee colonies. As a result, bees on the continent have not developed any resistance to the pest. However, some European bee colonies have a certain defense - they have a so-called VSH characteristic (“Varroa Sensitive Hygiene”). To strengthen the gene pool of its own bee colonies, Australia imports queen bees from Europe. However, the corona pandemic is causing a problem: delays in the mail.

"They arrive dead, they arrive stressed or they just don't arrive at all," the Australian broadcaster ABC recently quoted the President of the Australian Association of Queen Beekeepers, Richard Sims. A shipment with 250 queens was missing for seven days and almost all animals died. Many regions of Australia were recently in corona lockdown for months.

Ten queen bees from the Netherlands arrived in Australia undamaged, but the journey within the country took ten days. "The bees survived, but were in a poor condition," said breeder Corinne Jordan. "We have fertilized them artificially and hope that they are strong enough." The imported bees are extremely important to arm Australian conspecifics against the mites, even if they have not yet been detected there. "The situation can change at any time," Jordan warned.

Usually every beehive has a queen who is the only one to lay eggs.

In this way, the European queens with the VSH characteristic are supposed to create resilient bee colonies.

Workers with the VSH trait recognize bee brood infested by the mite and remove these offspring.

The pest infestation is thus reduced.

GPS tracking for the valuable cargo

Bees are important pollinators for Australian agriculture - just like in Europe.

“We now want to test new technology to check the temperature of the boxes in which the queens are sent.

And with GPS tracking we know where the deliveries are stuck, ”said Jordan.

Millions of peoples perish every year because of the Varroa mite.

The parasite, about the size of a pinhead, transmits deadly viruses in the sticks.

As a result, pupae have mutilated wings and young bees die early or the brood is destroyed.

As a countermeasure, beekeepers treated the animals with organic acids that are supposed to destroy the mites.

In the long term, genetically modified bacteria are supposed to kill the mites without complex acid treatment.

joe / dpa

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-10-22

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