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The control of exotic bee diseases and their likely interactions with UK conditions - HH0817THB

Description
The increasing international trade in honey bees and migratory beekeeping practices have posed new threats to the bee industry in many parts of the world because of the introduction and spread of exotic pathogens or pests. Kashmir bee virus (KBV) is known to persist as a low-level inapparent infection in Apis mellifera in several countries but there is no evidence that it is currently present in Britain. A previous MAFF funded study (1990) detected KBV in the companion bees imported with queen honey bees from New Zealand and it is likely that package bees (small colony units) imported from the same country may harbour this infection. Recent work (HH0814) established that Varroa destructor effectively vectored KBV to both adult bees and pupae and that the virus could become established and persist in small colony units.

The overall objective of this proposal is to evaluate the possible risk of the introduction and establishment of KBV and other exotic virus infections through honey bee importations and to determine the potential impact of these on the UK bee industry in association with V. destructor and endemic honey bee pathogens. This will be achieved through laboratory and small scale field studies in a containment facility at IACR-Rothamsted, through collaboration with scientists in New Zealand, where detailed studies of interactions between endemic KBV infections and V. destructor can be undertaken for the first time, and by the development of molecular tools for the detection and recognition of inapparent virus infections in bee imports.

The project meets MAFF policy objectives with respect to bee health by providing the essential scientific underpinning for the development of efficient and cost effective strategies for disease management and the promotion of sustainable agricultural systems. Observations on the risk of establishment of exotic pathogens or pests of honey bees and their possible interaction with endemic infections would provide the essential knowledge to inform government policy on the importation of bees from third countries and to inform the bee industry on threats and measures to minimise the impact of disease.

Annual progress reports and a detailed final report of the research findings submitted to MAFF will provide the fundamental information on which to base decisions on the likelihood of the introduction, establishment, persistence and impact of certain virus infections and their interaction with endemic diseases. Scientific findings will be published in refereed journals and as popular articles in the beekeeping press. Information of relevance to the beekeeping sectors in both the UK and New Zealand will be made available through relevant trade publications, at institute open days and by the presentation of posters and lectures at international, national and local beekeeping association conventions and meetings.
Objective
The overall objective of this proposal is to evaluate the possible risk of the introduction of Kashmir bee virus (KBV) and other exotic virus infections through honey bee importations and to determine the potential impact of KBV on the UK bee industry in association with V. destructor and endemic honey bee pathogens. This will be achieved through laboratory and field studies in a containment facility at IACR-Rothamsted, through collaboration with scientists in New Zealand, where studies on the interaction of V. destructor and endemic KBV infection can be undertaken, and by the development of molecular tools for the detection and identification of inapparent virus infections in live bees. Strategic investigations and specific objectives in these areas are outlined below:

1. Determine the factors affecting the epidemiology of KBV infection in association with V. destructor and endemic honey bee pathogens in the UK.

2. Determine the effect of KBV and other honey bee virus infections in association with V. destructor in honey bee colonies in New Zealand.

3. Detect and identify inapparent virus infections in companion worker bees imported with queen honey bees.

4. Develop molecular methods to detect and differentiate honey bee virus infections.

Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2001

To: 2004

Cost: £330,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Rothamsted Research (BBSRC)
Keywords
Bee Health              
Disease Control              
Farming              
Horticulture              
Organic Farming              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study
Horticulture
Horticulture