Mite Adaptation

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Nordak
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Mite Adaptation

Postby Nordak » Sun Sep 18, 2016 1:57 am

We speak in terms of resistance to mites, tolerance, bee adaptation, but what, if any, research has been done on mite adaptation in the field? It is obviously not advantageous for a parasitic life form to annihilate it's host. That's basically suicide for the species. Perhaps the classic case of collapse/rebound/stabilize that seems so prevalent in the treatment free landscape is based around the mite adapting to localized bee populations. It seems many of the successful stories of thriving bee colonies going untreated are from relatively stable, semi-controlled or isolated environments. Perhaps in these situations, what we are witnessing is the parasite adapting to it's host in order to create a sustainable relationship. How many colonies that crashed hard were counted for mite biting? VSH? My guess is very few, as these colonies were deemed failures. It is possible that these very traits were exhibited early on in the honeybee/varroa relationship, but went unnoticed until the idea of looking for resistant traits became the goal to combat the parasite. We know hygienic behavior existed prior to the mite. Defensive behavior as well such as biting. In a controlled, or isolated environment, what if varroa is doing all, or most, of the leg work in adaptation? Would love to hear thoughts on the matter.

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Dustymunky
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Re: Mite Adaptation

Postby Dustymunky » Sun Sep 18, 2016 4:09 pm

I am not a biologist but I don't think a parasite adapts to become less lethal to its host. Parasites that are less lethal probably persist longer because more lethal parasites kill their hosts and "burn out". The more lethal parasites are then naturally selected out while less lethal parasites continue on.

With bees and their tendency to rob out weak/dying hives this natural selection would not work. More lethal mites may actually spread faster by attaching to visiting robbers from neighboring hives. Also the drones that routinely visit neighboring hives (carrying mites) would again impede the selecting out of more lethal mites.

From my understanding the mite itself isn't the most dangerous thing to the bee. The diseases the mites spread are what usually kills off an infested colony.
Interesting question but in my opinion a new mite predator and/or bee adaptation are the best bet to balance the relationship.

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Nordak
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Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:24 am
Location: Arkansas

Re: Mite Adaptation

Postby Nordak » Sun Sep 18, 2016 5:08 pm

I think you're correct, the viral aspect is what we're looking at in truth. I do believe Mike Bush on that theory, what we have created a hyperactive mite through treatment, more virulent rather. Whether a parasitic life form can use reverse adaptation, I believe the scientific jury is still out on that one. If we look at the case of BWeaver. Their success ultimately came from the timing of AHB crossing into the lines. While their hives were crashing around them, there was a healthy population of AHB all around. Once treatment was removed, which coincided with the feral population thriving in a mite minefield, it eventually stabilized. Did it stabilize only because of resistance selection? Doubtful. The mite/bee relationship outside the Weaver Apiary had been established. Once treatments stopped, the apiary in a sense became part of an evolving process that had already been taking place. I don't think the checks and balances can be seen in terms of simple resistance breeding. I think stability is the key. No amount of resistance mechanism will overcome a system in flux. I think the AG industry should be seeing some improvement in those regards, but it's just not the case. Personally, while I believe resistance is part of the solution, it's certainly not THE solution. Remeber also, when we are breeding bees, we are breeding and selecting mites. I think it's a selection process on both sides.


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