Science & Environment

Plight of the humble bee

In April 2000, New Zealand honeybees received a death threat in the form of the varroa mite, an insect parasite which, if left uncontrolled, is capable of destroying hives and wiping out bees from entire regions. Once inside a hive, the mites multiply rapidly, weakening the honeybee colony and making it susceptible to disease and hive robbers such as wax moths—the culprit behind the destruction of comb in this hive on apiarists Tony and Jane Lorimer's Waikato property. Though confined at present to the North Island, varroa is predicted to colonise the entire country, decimating wild honeybee populations everywhere.

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