photo by Steve Burt (steveburt1947 on Flickr CC)

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), aka the widespread disappearance of honeybees, is a worrying and mysterious threat to the European honeybee population, which we are dependent on for much of our food supply.

Honeybee colonies pollinate many monoculture crops such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, flowers, seeds, beans and spices. If we lose them, the farming economy suffers, as does our food production.

Though the cause of CCD are not certain, studies have linked the decline in honeybee populations to certain pesticides and even climate change. The main suspect for killing the bees, however, is the varroa mite, a bee parasite that can carry deadly viruses.

On Wednesday, a 79-year old UK beekeeper by the name of Ron Hoskins announced that he might have found a strain of honeybee that is immune to the varroa.

From an article in the Guardian:

Hoskins calls his strain the ‘Swindon honeybee’. But any of Britain’s estimated 40,000 beekeepers hoping to get their hands on his superbees will be disappointed. He says more research is needed and expects it to be some years before his bees could be available to buy.

The British Beekeepers Association is excited by Hoskins’ work and will fund further research, though they warned that it is too soon to celebrate the solution to CCD.

Hoskins is quoted in an article in the Telegraph:

We are hoping that drones from my ‘grooming’ bees will mate with wandering female virgin queens and spread the footprint across Britain. This is not a short term solution and it will take a lot of work but it could be our only hope of saving the bee.

Additional resources:

Reuters – UK Bee Industry Abuzz With Mite Resistant Breed