The Varroa Mite

In this file photo, two reddish varroa mites appear on this European honeybee in this closeup view made in the laboratory at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz.

Many blame the varroa mite for this year's colony collapse on southern Vancouver Island. The mites were first discovered on the Island in the mid-90s and they can spread viruses to honeybees. The bees are also under pressure from climate change, the natural range of the different types of bees is on the move away from the equator in each hemisphere. Plus the bee's predators, like the varroa mite, are on the move both traveling with our commerical international bees and on their own in search of new habitat.

Throughout time many different mites and infectious agents were contained by geography and climate. Our capitialist system sets up the ideal conditions for the spread of parasites and is wiping out bees worldwide. We've shortsightedly imported/exported european type bees around the globe often forcing native populations that have co-evolved with the parasites in their locales into small pockets [if we're lucky] or extinction. These native bee populations were seen as inefficient and unruly compared to their distant european cousins, it was mechanize-profitize-exploit, until some inevitable change came along that the european bees wern't ready for and it's oops, sorry, no bees.

Another climate driven factor in bee survival is the changes in flowering times for plants as the climate regions shift. Bee's need certain tempratures before they become active, plants are mostly photoactive meaning they respond to the number of hours of light to cue their growth and flowering cycles. For millenia the bees and the flora in their region have evolved a symbiotic partnership based on the timing of each other's needs.

Bees and their varroa mite parasites have seen their relative populations swing back and forth in a classical predator-prey harmonic for a long time. Hopefully this North American wide slaughter of bees by mites will swing back and the bees strong enough to fight off the viruses visited upon them by the mites will parent new generations of bees both wild and domestic that are resistant to those viruses allowing them to proliferate and overpopulate the mites. What we must resist [Vegas odds are very long] is the agribusiness responses: trying to kill off the varroa mites, who are just doing nautre's work, with pesticides that actually wipe out billions of beneficial mini life forms [kinda like how civilians are collateral damage to drone attacks]. And we've gotta stop the insane global importation/exportation of bees.