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April 19, 2021

Dr. Samuel Ramsey - Varroa & Tropilaelaps Updates and More! (S3, E47)

Dr. Samuel Ramsey - Varroa & Tropilaelaps Updates and More!  (S3, E47)

Dr. Sam Ramsey is back with us again, looking at all sorts of questions than bother beekeepers, and working with smart kids and science! Sammy hasn’t not let any grass grow under his feet since he was forced to return home from his research in...


Dr. Samuel RamseyDr. Sam Ramsey is back with us again, looking at all sorts of questions than bother beekeepers, and working with smart kids and science!

Sammy hasn’t not let any grass grow under his feet since he was forced to return home from his research in Thailand studying Tropilaelaps mites (Tropilaelaps clareae and T. mercedesae) so we are ready if and when they arrive in the US. It turns out there is a very clever way to identify which species of Tropi-mite, as they call them in Thailand, is infesting a hive. Believe it or not, they actually “melt” the DNA of the creature and can ID them from what’s left. That’s a big step in the right direction for these nasties.

While in Thailand, he also observed the Giant Asian Hornet, the “murder hornet” we now have poking into in Pacific Northwest. He worked with local beekeepers looking for nests, watching them destroy honey bee colonies and then harvesting the larvae of a destroyed hornet nest for a delicacy food. He also found out why some bees spread water buffalo dung on their hives to keep the hornets away. This is really a mind blower.

Sammy’s work on varroa and fat bodies didn’t slow down one bit this year. They’ve uncovered that the female mite harvests certain proteins from the fat body and then funnels them directly into the developing egg without first digesting the protein rich meal. These whole, complete proteins are needed by the embryo to complete development. Now, how can that process be interrupted? That’s the million-dollar question. Just imagine if the discovery leads to a control which doesn’t involve putting poison into the hive…

When Sammy was here last, he talked about forming his Ramsey Research Foundation, to replace the original “GoFundMe” site. Through the Foundation you can help support the work he’s involved in - heading back to Thailand in the fall, working more with Giant Hornets, and finding out how to quit putting poison in our beehives. Check out the Foundation, and see if you, or better your beekeeping group, can help make this a better world for us, our bees, and beekeepers everywhere.

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast:

Honey Bee Obscura

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Dr. Samuel Ramsey Profile Photo

Dr. Samuel Ramsey

Samuel Ramsey, Ph.D. Marvin Caruthers Endowed Professor of Entomology *National Geographic* Explorer BioFrontiers Institute

Dr. Ramsey received his B.S. in entomology from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Maryland College Park. He completed his post-doctoral training with Dr. Jay Evans, Steve Cook, and Daniel Sonenshine at USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory and now serves as Endowed Professor of Entomology at CU Boulder’s BioFrontiers Institute and the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department.

Featured on Hulu’s Docuseries: Your Attention Please as well as in the Washington Post, on NPR, CNN, Wired, CBS This Morning, Khan Academy, Seeker, The Today Show and several local news segments, Ramsey is celebrated as an engaging science communicator. He uses this talent to make science more accessible to a broad audience.

His nonprofit, The Ramsey Research Foundation, works to remove barriers that slow the progress of and decrease access to science by developing novel pathways for scientific funding and by removing paywalls that keep the public from engaging with published scientific work.