Evaluation of the distribution and impacts of parasites, pathogens, and pesticides on honey bee (apis mellifera) populations in east Africa

Elliud Muli, Harland Martin Patch, Maryann Frazier, James Frazier, Baldwyn Torto, Tracey Baumgarten, Joseph Kilonzo, James Ng ang a. Kimani, Fiona Mumoki, Daniel Masiga, James Homer Tumlinson, III, Christina M. Grozinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In East Africa, honey bees (Apis mellifera) provide critical pollination services and income for small-holder farmers and rural families. While honey bee populations in North America and Europe are in decline, little is known about the status of honey bee populations in Africa. We initiated a nationwide survey encompassing 24 locations across Kenya in 2010 to evaluate the numbers and sizes of honey bee colonies, assess the presence of parasites (Varroa mites and Nosema microsporidia) and viruses, identify and quantify pesticide contaminants in hives, and assay for levels of hygienic behavior. Varroa mites were present throughout Kenya, except in the remote north. Levels of Varroa were positively correlated with elevation, suggesting that environmental factors may play a role in honey bee host-parasite interactions. Levels of Varroa were negatively correlated with levels of hygienic behavior: however, while Varroa infestation dramatically reduces honey bee colony survival in the US and Europe, in Kenya Varroa presence alone does not appear to impact colony size. Nosema apis was found at three sites along the coast and one interior site. Only a small number of pesticides at low concentrations were found. Of the seven common US/European honey bee viruses, only three were identified but, like Varroa, were absent from northern Kenya. The number of viruses present was positively correlated with Varroa levels, but was not correlated with colony size or hygienic behavior. Our results suggest that Varroa, the three viruses, and Nosema have been relatively recently introduced into Kenya, but these factors do not yet appear to be impacting Kenyan bee populations. Thus chemical control for Varroa and Nosema are not necessary for Kenyan bees at this time. This study provides baseline data for future analyses of the possible mechanisms underlying resistance to and the long-term impacts of these factors on African bee populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere94459
JournalPloS one
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 16 2014

Fingerprint

Varroidae
Eastern Africa
Varroa
Honey
Bees
Pathogens
Viruses
Pesticides
Apis mellifera
honey bees
Parasites
pesticides
parasites
pathogens
Nosema
Kenya
Population
Apoidea
honey bee colonies
Coastal zones

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Cite this

Muli, Elliud ; Patch, Harland Martin ; Frazier, Maryann ; Frazier, James ; Torto, Baldwyn ; Baumgarten, Tracey ; Kilonzo, Joseph ; Kimani, James Ng ang a. ; Mumoki, Fiona ; Masiga, Daniel ; Tumlinson, III, James Homer ; Grozinger, Christina M. / Evaluation of the distribution and impacts of parasites, pathogens, and pesticides on honey bee (apis mellifera) populations in east Africa. In: PloS one. 2014 ; Vol. 9, No. 4.
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Evaluation of the distribution and impacts of parasites, pathogens, and pesticides on honey bee (apis mellifera) populations in east Africa. / Muli, Elliud; Patch, Harland Martin; Frazier, Maryann; Frazier, James; Torto, Baldwyn; Baumgarten, Tracey; Kilonzo, Joseph; Kimani, James Ng ang a.; Mumoki, Fiona; Masiga, Daniel; Tumlinson, III, James Homer; Grozinger, Christina M.

In: PloS one, Vol. 9, No. 4, e94459, 16.04.2014.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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