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Viral Honeybee Diseases

Biology (Year 12) - Specific Disease Studies

Ben Whitten

What are Viral Honeybee Diseases? There are a large number of different viral diseases which have been known to have a great impact not only on bees themselves, but entire colonies. Some of the following diseases are listed;

  • Sacbrood (affects bee larvae)

  • Black queen cell virus (death of queen cells)

  • Kashmir bee virus (similar to human flu)

  • Paralysis virus (disfigures and disables bees)

  • Deformed wing virus

What is the general life cycle of these diseases?

  1. Viruses inject their DNA or RNA into bee cells

  2. Copies DNA and infects surrounding cells

  3. Attacks bees at different stages of development and castes of honeybees; eggs, larvae, pupae, adult worker bees, adult drones and queen bees

What is the mode of transmission for these diseases?

  • Food-borne transmission

  • Body fluid transmission (which occurs during mating)

  • Vector transmission, i.e. via a parasitic mite such as the Varroa mite (deformed wing virus)

What is the impact on bees?

  • Symptoms are delayed until it is too late to save the bees

  • Dramatically affects the health of honeybees, and shortens the lifespan of bees who are infected under particular conditions

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