Zach Huang and team publish Varroa mite chemical mimicry findings

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

New research has revealed that Varroa mites, the most serious threat to honey bees 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 the parasite is found and killed.

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

“The mites from Asian honey bees, or the original host, are more efficient in mimicking both Asian and European honey bees,” 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 honey bees.” Read more at MSU Today: A Smelling Bee?

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