'Bee'ing blues

Published: Thursday 29 February 1996

INDIA is facing a new kind of invasion. Native bee colonies in south India are threatened by a viral disease, believed to have been carried in by foreign bees. The viral infection, known as Thai Sac Brood disease, has caused devastation in the past couple of years in domestic bee colonies and ruined the apiculture business in many parts of south India. The virus kills the larvae. Pandurang Hegde, co-ordinator of the Save the Honey Bee Campaign, based at Sirsi near Goa, alleged, "Even after realising that the plan to import bees into south India is a failure, the government still wants to go ahead".

The disease first struck the Western Ghat coastal area of Dakshina Kannada and then spread to parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. According to Hegde, the virus is believed to have been introduced here by exotic Italian bees (Apis mellifera) that are being propagated by the government.

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