Maryann Frazier, a researcher at Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research, checks on one of her experimental honeybee hives. Frazier is testing the effects of pesticides on honeybee colonies.
Lou Blouin for NPR
Keeping honeybees healthy has become a challenge for beekeepers. And one main reason why is a threat that’s been wiping out bees since the late 1980s: the varroa mite.
“It’s a parasitic mite that feeds on the blood of adult bees and on the brood. It also transmits virus, and it suppresses the immune system of the bees,” explains Penn State honeybee expert Mary Ann Frazier.
It’s basically like having a six-pound house cat attached to your side, sucking the life out of you. These mites wiped out colonies across the world. And treatments were, and still are, pretty limited. In fact, the …