Monday, November 10, 2008

'Clean-Up' Bees Could Save Endangered Hives

Plan to use genetically programmed 'hygienic' breeds to combat parasites
Caroline Davies, The Guardian (UK), 11/9/2008

A British scientist is hoping to reverse the critical decline of the honeybee by breeding 'cleaner bees' to protect hives from potentially devastating diseases.

Francis Ratnieks, the UK's only professor of apiculture, is undertaking pioneering research based on a breed of worker bee genetically programmed to keep hives clean. So-called 'hygienic' bees are responsible for removing dead pupae and larvae from hives, but they only exist in very small numbers.

The Sussex University academic believes that, if more of them can be artificially bred, they will protect hives from parasites such as the varroa mite which last year killed two billion honeybees and wiped out one in three colonies…

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