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A tiny bug is being blamed for killing more than half of the bees in some Northern states. The problem is even worse in California ... with 70 percent of that state's honeybees have been wiped out and the problem is happening here at home too.
Richard Weaver owns his own bee farm in Navasota. He primarily raises queen bees to distribute out to other bee keepers. But lately, business hasn't been looking so sweet... Richard hasn't been able to produce as many bees because of a rural mite called Varroa.
"We weren't able to get the number that we needed -- we needed an X amount and we were only able to get half of that amount done because of the shortage caused by the mites." says Weaver.
The Varroa or vampire mite is an Asian parasite that arrived in the U-S in the mid-80's and attaches to bees, affecting the honeybee population.
Paul Jackson is an Entymologist for Texas A&M and says if not managed or controlled properly -- it can destroy a bee hive, which may put bee keepers out of business.
"When a Vorra mite gets on the abdomen of a bee. Its like having a 20 pound tumor on a person if 3 or 4 of those get on them, it wears them down and feeds on the body fluid of honey bee and it actually destroys the immature larva." says Jackson.
For the most part, Texas beekeepers have been able to keep the rural mites under control -- but this year has been the worst they've ever seen....having to cancel some 5,000 orders.
Weaver says the mites seem to have developed an immunity to the two chemicals that once was effective. Therefore leaving bee keepers, like Richard...helpless.
"No telling what kind of mite problems or diseases...bees will pick them up naturally and migrate back to the southern states or wherever and you have a whole new problem you weren't used to before." says Weaver.
So all Richard can do now is hope his entire bee farm doesn't get infected.
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