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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Raises Russian Bees

WASHINGTON -- Swarms of hardy Russian queen bees are to be used in a desperate battle to defeat tiny blood-sucking mites that are devastating honey bee colonies.

"The situation in America is extremely serious," Thomas Rinderer, honey bee research leader at the U.S. Agriculture Department said Friday.

Besides producing honey, bees also pollinate farm crops including apples and zucchini.

In response to the epidemic, the Agriculture Department signed an agreement this month with bee breeder Steven Bernard of Breaux, Louisiana, to raise hundreds of Russian honey bee queens this fall and winter.

Russian honeybees are twice as resistant to attacks by varroa mites.