The COVID-19 tsunami has raced around the world and very few of us were prepared to be in the tsunami zone. Like many crises, some people will rise and some will fall because of it. We hope that you and yours will eventually rise and be stronger. Our little business is bobbing along because of the support you have shown us. We are fortunate to still be open and able to supply you with all of your honey related products. Our honey bee world has also been affected. The NZ bee packages we normally use to replenish our winter losses are not available because the airlines are shut down. But, we are fortunate to have baby hives (nucs) available from BC. Thus we’re forging new relationships and who knows where they may lead us!
Speaking of our bees, you may wonder if they could also suffer from a viral pandemic? Like humans, honey bees are subject to a wide variety of viral infections. In honey bees small virus infestations can exist in normal, healthy colonies, but can become lethal when the hive is additionally stressed by varroa mite parasites (who spread viruses like wildfire!) or nosema (a protozoan disease). Their primary defense is to remove any infected bees at the larval stage (in fact it’s the specific job of ‘nurse bees’). A hive that has a high success rate at removing diseased bees is deemed as ‘hygienic’ and current bee breeders are striving for bee strains with the best hygienic traits. New research has also found that some bee strains have specific viral resistance and breeders are increasing efforts in that direction. Honey bees contract viruses primarily by varroa mites which inject them directly into the hemolymph (body fluids) and secondarily by ingestion. Preventing mite infestations are the best prevention and one thing for sure – social isolation won’t work for them!