Are bees going extinct?

ABSTRACT

The Honey Bees (Apismellifera) are named as such due to the fact these bees are excellent honey producers.  They are also often called Western or European honey bees.  Honey bees are generally identified to be the most economically valuable pollinators of agricultural and horticultural crops all over the world.Throughout the world, farmers have in the past relied on managed pollinators, particularly honeybees for instanceA.melliferaand Apiscerana to ensure sufficient crop pollination (Allen-Wardellet al., 1998). Bees of various species complement each other in pollination and pollinator diversity is important in enhancing pollination services. Pollinator diversity can help reduce the risk that may arise due to lack of pollinators during the critical period of crop flowering for example  A. melliferaare known to abandon flower patches for more suitable ones and in such a case having other bee species can help counteract the lost honey bee function (Kasina, 2007).

Farmers all over the world, farmers have heavily depended on managed pollinators. A good example of such reliance is that of honey bees namely Apismellifera as well as Apiscerana. This reliance of managed pollinators has always been used to ensure that there is sufficient pollination in crops. The presence of various species of bees used in pollination plays an important role in pollination. Pollinator diversity enhances pollination services. The presence of diverse pollinators is an assurance that pollination as an ecological process will take place during the critical stage of flowering in the life cycle of crops. When there is scanty flower patches, A. melliferatend to leave such patches for suitable ones.

 

Recently, honey bee viruses have gotten quite a bit of awareness as a result of the significant ailment status that viruses induce in honey bees which pose a serious danger to their well-being and health.  Varroa destructor (Acari: Varroidae), previously referred to as V.jacobsoni is currently the most serious threat to the European honey bee, Apismellifera.  The Varroa mite has seriously damaged the beekeeping industry inside the U.S. since its invasion in 1987.  It is possible to bring a considerable detrimental impact on the pollination of many fruits and crops as agricultural production in the US as well as in other parts of the world relies upon honey bees for pollination.  The regrettable event introduced as much destruction that it led to a great economic loss. In Apismellifera, it has been exhibited that the female varroa mite infests and reproduces on both the worker and male larvae.The infestation of varroa mite has proven to be fatal if left untreated and majority of colonymortality occurs within duration of six to 2years after the initial attack.

It’s been thought by many researchers and the general public that the mite that infests and switches to and from both Apiscerana and mellifera could be the same species and is generally known as Varroa jacobsoni.  It is until Anderson and Trueman proposed and concluded that the mite that’s now infesting Apismelliferi is a new species.  Instead of the Varroa jacobsoni, they named it Varroa destructor.

The name is based on the variance in morphology, geographical distributions and genetics.  The adult female V. jacobsoni is less spherical in shape than an adult female V. destructor.  The adult female V. jacobsoni is smaller, measuring (1.1 ± 0.03) in length and width of (1.5 ± 0.04 mm) compared to mean body length  of the destructor which is (one.2 ± 0.03 mm) and width of (one.7 ± 0.04 mm).  Only the v. Destructor has been located cultivating on the. mellifera in 32 different international locations while A. Jacobsoni is found mainly in Asia since they infest  Asian bee colonies.

There are several pathogens that have been known to affect honey bees in the world. Among these pathogens, viruses are the known major threat to not only the well-being of these honey makers but also to their health. The threats of these viruses have caused wide concerns to beekeepers and also researchers.

Early in the twentieth century, the US scientist discovered that a filterable agent found in diseased bee larvae was the underlying cause of sacbrood disease. After that initial discovery about 18 other viruses have been found to infect honey bees in different places throughout the world. A lot of pace has been gained in the effort of understanding the bees viral infections over the last thirty years. There are several symptoms that are exhibited with the infestation of viruses in honey bees. Paralysis in honey bees has been established as the diagnostic marker for various viruses that affect bees. However, it has been determined that change in environment among other things can make diagnosis of viruses using such a marker to be difficult. Moreover, this problem has been coupled by the presence of multiple viruses that infect bees. Therefore, the search for an alternative diagnostic method has been given top priority.

There are two ways in which the transmission of viruses and honeybees are shown. It may be through horizontal, vertical transmission pathways or both.  In horizontal transmission, viruses are transmitted amongst unique individuals of the exact same generation and may arise within the following means: food-borne transmission, venereal (sexual) transmission, and/or vector-borne transmission. It may be further divided into transovum transmission where viruses are transmitted to the surface of the egg and transovarian transmission where viruses are transmitted inside the egg.  Honey bees display common eusocial features such as generation overlap, cooperative brood care and reproductive division of labor.  The densely crowded populations along with the substantial contact rate among colony members in honey bee colonies improve the risk of disease transmission

Viruses normally appear to cause any direct signs or symptoms of diseases; they have a direct impact on the health and well-being of bees. They are known to reduce health and as well as shorten lifespan dramatically. The vertical and horizontal transmission pathways have important roles in the survival strategies of viruses. These strategies have been carefully crafted considering the physiological, developmental, ecological and epidemiological conditions. When there is little or no activity in term of competitiveness within bee population in a colony, the viruses are transmitted through vertical transmission. Stress condition such as a severe varroa mite infection will lead to a high rate of horizontal transmission. Environmental factors such as cold temperature evident mostly in winters bring about long period of stay within the hive. This brings about deposition of faecal matter contributing to the rapid replication of viruses with the hive. The high number of virions within the hive will make the hive a highly infectious community leading to a possible collapse of the whole colony.

The chemical substances used to control varroa mites are categorized and outlined by their toxicity and efficacy. Chemicals like: coumaphos, fluvalinate and amitraz, often known as “hard chemicals”, can kill 99% of mites that are not yet resistant.

The “soft chemicals” that come with natural and organic acids and vital oils, usually destroy 70-90% of mites. Chemical substances are utilized to honey bee colonies all through a time of no honey movement and brood less seasons in order to avoid contamination of honey and to increase efficacy too.  When mites are within the reproductive stage, it is rather complicated for virtually any chemical to penetrate or achieve sealed brood cells, other than formic acid.  The very best time for treatment method is over the period of time of no brood or a lot less brood.


CHAPTER ONE

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Ecosystem services can be defined as those processes in nature through which ecosystems and the organisms within them sustain as well as fulfil the basic requirements of human life. Pollination of plant life otherwise known as biotic pollination is one of the key ecosystem service, which have been cited commonly to be a perfect example of endangered ecosystem service (De Marco &Coehlo, 2004; Kremenet al., 2004; Klein, et al., 2006). A good example of such a key ecosystem service which boasts to have an enormous value is crop pollination.  (Roubik, 2002a). The value of crop pollination can be equated to be worth billions of US dollars every year throughout the world. (Rubik, 1995). As it is well known, Some crops are not able to set seeds and or fruits without the help of pollination (Kremen et al., 2002a).

Cultivars estimated to be approximately about two-thirds of the world’s crops need to be pollinated by mostly bees and or other insects as it has been discovered (Roubik, 2002a). It has also been discovered that about 30% of the food consumed by human beings, mostly in countries in the tropics is  obtained as a results of crops pollinated by insects(Klein et al., 2003a). It should be noted that there are other animals that play a role in crop pollination. These include birds such as humming birds, bats, butterflies and moths some of these animals are the main pollinators. However, the fact still remains that the common group of pollinators in the world are bees(Free, 1993).

All over the world, farmers in the past have heavily relied on pollinators in a managed pollinators such as Apiscerana and Apismellifera as a strategy of ensuring that there is sufficient pollinators (Allen-Wardellet al., 1998). The presence of Bees of different species helps in increasing pollinators’ diversity thus improving pollination as an ecological service. The abundance in Pollinator diversity plays a role in reducing the potential risk that is bound to arise due to absence of pollinators within critical period in which crop flowering are supposed to fertilized in the process of pollination. This is evident from the common case in which A. melliferatend to abandon scanty flower patches and in turn go for suitable patches. The presence of rich pollinator abundance is essential in counteracting such a unique and potential risk of lost pollinators (Kasina, 2007).

 

As with many ecosystem services, the mechanisms and scales through which crop pollination is provided are too poorly understood to inform on land-use decisions (Ricketts, 2004). Understanding the relevant scales for service-providing taxa is crucialtherefore, to assessing the delivery of ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes (Roubik, 1999).In addition, maintaining a diversity of pollinators may stabilize pollination services over time, buffering against declines in any individual species (Kremenet al., 2002b).Roubik recommended that information on pollinators in most African countries needs to be acquired. He stated that in most African countries lack insect collections because during pre-independence period, colonial governments built fine taxonomic collections which were then taken out of Africa when they left (Roubik, 1995).

The European honey bee, Apismellefira L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae) plays a significant and vital role in the worldwide economy and food source. They help in the pollination of about one-thirds of the food crops all over the world and develop honey, beeswax, pollen propolis, royal jelly as well as other hive items.  Inevitably, on the other hand, honey bees are found vulnerable to infection by all kinds of pathogens and populations of honeybees have been through marked declines since the1940’s, threatening international agricultural production (Stokstad, 2007)).  There has been alarming declines, as reported by the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a serious illness through which adult worker bees abruptly vanish and die, leading to the collapse of the colony (Oldroyd, 2007).

It’s been thought by many researchers and the general public that the mite that infests and switches to and from both Apiscerana andA.melliferacould be the same species and is generally known as Varroa jacobsoni.  It is until Anderson and Trueman proposed and concluded that the mite that’s now infesting Apismelliferi is a new species.  Instead of the Varroa jacobsoni,they named it Varroa destructor.

The name is based on the variance in morphology, geographical distributions and genetics.  The adult female V. jacobsoni is less spherical in shape than an adult female V. destructor.  The adult female V. jacobsoni is smaller, measuring (1.1 ± 0.03) in length and width of (1.5 ± 0.04 mm) compared to mean body length  of the destructor which is (one.2 ± 0.03 mm) and width of (one.7 ± 0.04 mm).  Only the v. Destructor has been located cultivating on the. mellifera in 32 different international locations while A. Jacobsoni is found mainly in Asia since they infest  Asian bee colonies.

V. Destructor has 8% difference in mtDNA from V. jacobsoni.  Amongst the 5,458 nucleotides on the mtDNA CO-I gene of V. destructor (Korea haplotypes) and v.jacobsoni (Java haplotypes), 30 nucleotides are diverse in between them.  The entire mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of V. destructor is obtainable for addressing genetic inquiries and determining the haplotypes from different localities.  Thus far, only two from 18 different mitochondrial haplotypes of V. destructor, particularly haplotypes Korea and Japan have already been uncovered capable of reproduction on A. mellifera. (L. Bailey, 1996)

 

Reports claim that both Russian, also called Korean variety genotypes of V. destructor are prsent in North America.  Using an area of the mtDNA CO-I coding gene, Anderson and Trueman observed that Japan-Thailand and Korea haplotypes of V. destructor had been from the US (95 samples from the US).  The result of RAPD and mtDNA signifies that North America had more than one introduction of V. destructor.  Simply because Korea haplotypes are most common in the U.S., and induce terrific destruction there, it implies that it’s the haplotype which is most virulent over A. Mellifera (Olivier et al; 2008).

The first sighting on the varroa mite was in Wisconsin in 1987 as well as in Florida, the same year.  After that, it had been discovered throughout 12 other states before 1991.  The only state which is viewed as varroa-free is Hawaii.  The rapid distribution of varroa mites to each of the U.S. can be attributed to the movement of bees by human, allowing for mites to transfer from the colony to another.  Swarming will be the only strategy for varroato broaden without human intervention simply because a swarm may possibly fly quite a few km (all around 300 m to 10 km) away within the parental colony.

There are several pathogens that have been known to affect honey bees in the world. Among these pathogens, viruses are the known major threat to not only the well-being of these honey makers but also to their health. The threat of these viruses have caused wide concerns to beekeepers and also researchers

There are two ways in which the transmission of viruses and honeybees are shown. It may be through horizontal, vertical transmission pathways or both.  In horizontal transmission, viruses are transmitted amongst unique individuals of the exact same generation and may arise within the following means: food-borne transmission, venereal (sexual) transmission, and/or vector-borne transmission. It may be further divided into transovum transmission where viruses are transmitted to the surface of the egg and transovarian transmission where viruses are transmitted inside the egg.  Honey bees display common eusocial features such as generation overlap, cooperative brood care and reproductive division of labor.  The densely crowded populations along with the substantial contact rate among colony members in honey bee colonies improve the risk of disease transmission

1.1 Backgroundto the Problem

 

The European honey bee, Apismellefira L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae) plays a significant and vital role inthe worldwide economy and food source. They help in the pollination of about one-thirds of the food crops all over the world and develop honey, beeswax, pollen propolis, royal jelly as well as other hive items. Inevitably, on the other hand, honey bees are found vulnerable to infection by all kinds of pathogens and populations of honeybees have been through marked declines since the1940’s, threatening international agricultural production. There has been alarming declines, as reported by the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a serious illness through which adult worker bees abruptly vanish and die, leading to the collapse of the colony (Oldroyd, 2007).

 

On the onset of fall, the last flowers tend to wither and fall off as the days have become shorter and colder. The queen automatically stops laying eggs. The last batch of hatching bees would attack the remaining pollen supply, convert it to royal jelly and finally become nurses. When every last bee hatching becomes a nurse, this means there is no more need of nursing services that the protein expense is controlled. The nurses now have the task of storing the precious vitellogenin safely in their bodies and they need it to survive through the cold spell. They are the “winter bees”. Unlike the foraging bees, who work extensively all through and only get to live for only six weeks, winter bees’ main task is to survive through the harsh weather of winter to spring. Packed with massive amounts of antioxidizing, immunity-enhancing and life expanding vitellogenin, the winter bees can live for months until the queen starts the process of laying eggs where they pass the remaining vitellogenin in them to the new brood before the levels inside them falls activating them into foragers of spring.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

 

The varroa mite, a honey bee parasite, is said to be responsible to annual losses amounting to several hundred billions of dollars. A small magnitude Infestation of varroa mites in a hive may be considered insignificant, but a massive infestation to a whole colony of potential worker bees may render the whole colony functionless and hence leading to its collapse. The disturbing worldwide phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder is very worrying. The phenomenon is manifested by a suddenly death of a whole bee colony. Without immediate attention of such a catastrophe, the world is looking at the massive loss of pollinators and hence the loss of crops. Winter bees play a crucial role in the storage of vitellogenin throughout the cold spell. The role played by winter bees in the transfer of vitellogenin is key. Without the presence of winter bees the chainof transmission of viruses from one individual to another within the colony will have been broken.

1.3 Justification

 

The impact that varroa mite has on the economy is very big. The extent of the impact may be hard to believe too most people as bees has always been seen as honey producers thus very few people might think there can be more impacts. Honey is one of the product that these amazing insect have been known to produce. Among the other products include royal jelly, propolis as well as wax. All these products have many uses in different human industries. Amazingly, the impact of death of bees to human industries and his endeavours is insignificant compared to that it has on the environment; pollination. It has a major in impact to both crops and wild plants. Bees are heavily relied upon for the pollination of many crops. Without the presence of honey bees, human kind will be forced to do without staples such as almonds, apples and onions, to mention but a few.

It is daunting tasks to quantify the real worth of honey bees to pollination as an ecological service. Some people have calculated that honey bees within the Americas continents have a worth of about 217 billion in pollination as an ecological services. However, this value is much greater than that.

1.4 Hypotheses

 

1.     Varroa mite and its associated viruses have no effect on the hypopharyngeal gland of honey bees.

2.     Varroa mites and associated viruses have no effect on the protein content of honey bees.

3.     The menace caused by honey bees has no effective treatment that has ever been formulated over the years.

1.5 Objectives

 

1.     To establish the effect of varroa mite and its associated viruses on the hypopharyngeal glands of honey bees.

2.     To identify various viruses using rt-pcr

3.     To establish the effects of varroa mite and associated viruses on the protein content of honey bees.

4.     To establish the most effect treatment of varroa mites by comparing the different types of treatment formulated over the years

5.     To track effort put in place to curb the varroa mite menace

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