Alberta has been experiencing a very warm and dry fall which may be nice for outdoor adventures but not for our bees hoping to stockpile more honey. Searching vainly for nectar, they are also competing with wasps. Wasps additionally raid beehives for honey. Due to the large population of wasps this year it's definitely a stressful time for honey bees and humans alike.
In addition to wasps, parasitic mites have long been a threat to our honey bees. Mites are fatal in large numbers. For decades, beekeepers around the world have been searching for the best mite controls. A study of Cuban bees provides an alternative solution.
Miticides (chemicals) to kill the mites are commonly used in North America with limited success, but Cuban beekeepers weren't able to access these. Initially they lost approximately 6-10% of their hives to mite infestation. But after several years, using natural selection only, they have developed a strain of European honey bees (the same breeds we have) which are mite resistant. In these hives, worker bees can detect mite-infested honey comb cells, open the cells and either remove the affected honey bee pupae or not, and finally re- cap the cells. Now Cuba has the largest population of mite resistant European honey bees in the world. For the full research document click here.