African bees hold the key to unravelling resistance mechanisms to diseases that have decimated colonies in Europe and the United States, a new joint study by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and the Pennsylvania State University Center for Pollinator Research revealed
Findings from the study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE indicated that the honey bee population in East Africa appear largely resistant or tolerant of parasites and pathogens that threaten bee populations in other parts of the world.
The East African bees are also not significantly affected by environmental toxins, according to the study.
“Our results suggest that the common causes for colony losses in the United States and Europe – parasites, pathogens and pesticides – do not seem to be affecting Kenyan bees, at least not yet,” said Christina Grozinger, professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State.
Researchers further noted that while more than 90 per cent of the honey bee colonies in the US contain pesticide residues, only four chemical residues were detected in the colonies sampled among the East African bees.
“The low level of pesticides in hives from across Kenya, particularly when compared to levels in developed countries, suggests pesticide residues play only a limited role in honey bee health in Kenya at this time,” noted the study.