A lot of challenges face honeybees. Invasive mites sap the brood’s strength and introduce disease. Pesticide build-up in the brood comb gradually weakens the bees. And monocultures may provide a lot of food but not much nutritional variety. While some of these threats may weaken or kill a hive on their own, a combination of factors is thought to be the cause of colony collapse disorder, in which the worker bees abruptly disappear, dooming the colony.
Washington State University entomologists Steve Sheppard and Susan Cobey have begun to import honey bee semen to diversify the U.S. honey bee gene pool. New genetic material may make honey bees more able to resist their many challenges.
credit: Washington State University