Cornwall

Cornish bee 'could help save species from killer disease'

Cornish Black honey bee
Image caption The Cornish Black honey bee is thought to be better at dealing with the varroa mite

A rare Cornish bee species could save dwindling populations from a disease that has wiped out millions of colonies worldwide, scientists have said.

New research suggests the Cornish Black honey bee is better at dealing with varroa mites, which carry a strain of a disease called deformed wing virus.

The virus has killed vast numbers of the world's bees.

Scientists at Paignton Zoo are researching how the breed has survived the mite.

The zoo hopes its findings will help protect colonies and encourage more bee keepers to take on the Cornish breed.

Colonies of the bees have been moved to the zoo to monitor their health over the summer.

The mites act as tiny incubators of one deadly form of the disease, and inject it directly into the bees' blood.

Michael Bungard from the zoo said: "It's important that zoos look in our own backyard.

"Our bee project is predominantly education, so we can get the message across about the Cornish black bees and the varroa mite."

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