What is killing the honeybees? The role of RNA viruses (ARC Discovery Project administered by The University of Sydney) (2017–2019)
We will determine if the most important parasite of honeybees, the Varroa mite, selects for highly virulent strains
of RNA viruses. We know there is an association between Varroa and colonies dying from viruses. We don¿t know
what is cause and effect. Does the mite vector viruses, selecting for highly virulent strains? If so, we need to focus
on controlling the mites. Or are some bees resistant to viruses? We then need to select for resistant bees.
Australia¿s honeybees are unique as they are Varroa-naïve and don¿t carry virulent viruses. In the time we have
left before the inevitable arrival of Varroa into Australia this project will disentangle the effect of Varroa and the
bees¿ immune system on the evolution of virulence of bee viruses.