Evaluation of colony losses in Israel in relation to the incidence of pathogens and pests
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To evaluate symptoms, extent, and possible causes of colony decline and losses in Israel, we carried out (1) a survey of honeybee colony losses and potential causes via mail and phone; (2) systematic sampling of healthy and problematic beehives after requeening in the winter; (3) detection of Varroa and pathogens including, viruses and Nosema ceranae, by microbiological means and sensitive RT-PCR. From 58 beekeepers (46 000 colonies) interviewed, 40% complained of extensive colony loses during 2008. Examination and sampling for pests and pathogens of 113 hives in the winter of 2009 showed 35% of hives with Nosema and 21% with V. destructor. The most frequent viruses detected were Black Queen Cell Virus, Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus, and Deformed Wing Virus. A significant negative correlation was found between worker population in the hive and the presence of viral and Nosema infections.