MSU researchers discover how deadly mites infiltrate honeybee hives

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Varroa mites are the most serious threat to honeybees worldwide. (view larger image)

New research has revealed that Varroa mites, the most-serious threat to honeybees worldwide, are infiltrating hives by smelling like bees.

The Michigan State University-led study, appearing in the current issue of Biology Letters, shows that being able to smell like their hostess reduces the chance that the parasite is found and killed.

The parasites were originally found on Asian honeybees. The invasive species, however, revealed their versatility when they began infesting and killing European honeybees.

“The mites from Asian honeybees, or the original host, are more efficient in mimicking both Asian and European honeybees,” said Zachary Huang, MSU entomologist and one of the papers’ lead authors. “This remarkable adaptability may explain their relatively recent host shift from Asian to European honeybees.”

For the full story, please visit MSU Today.

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