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Eliminating the Honey Bee’s Biggest Enemy

Michigan State University researchers are working on a new solution to save honey bees and stop colony collapse disorder by wiping out a parasitic enemy.

Honey bees are an essential part of the world’s agricultural system. One in every three bites of food people consume is made possible by bees. They pollinate almonds, blueberries, and other crops and help maintain healthy ecosystems.

Honey bee populations continue to decline, and the biggest threat to their health is the varroa mite, one of the world’s tiniest and most destructive parasites. Varroa mites suck the blood of bees and transmit deadly viruses, making them a primary cause of colony collapse disorder.

At the MSU St. Andrews learning facility in Midland, researcher Edmund Stark and his team of high school summer interns, are developing time-released, polymer-coated miticide technology to treat mite infestations more effectively.

Because the miticide is released over time, it provides a longer, more consistent treatment, combating multiple mite breeding cycles and reducing the risk of toxicity to treated bee hives. Unlike many miticides, MSU’s new technology can be used during honey production and does not harm bees.

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