Monday, 14 October 2019

Domestic honey bee diseases

Domestic honey bee diseases

Domestic honeybee diseases threaten wild bumblebees

Bee populations around the world, among them many species of wild bumblebees, are in decline. New research by the University of Vermont in the US has found that diseases transmitted by domestic honeybees could be to blame for this.

Lead researcher Samantha Alger, an expert beekeeper, and researcher for the university’s Department of Plant and Soil Science and Gund Institute for Environment, found that several of the viruses affecting bumblebees had spread from the managed bees in apiaries to nearby populations of wild bumblebees. Her research showed that this had occurred due to different species of bees sharing lowers during pollination.

“Many wild pollinators are trouble and this finding could help us protect bumblebees,” she said. This has implications for how we managed domestic bees and where we locate them. “In recent years, there has been a global shift in our view of wild pollinators, as populations have become threatened by disease, which in turn, have threatened key crops.” Honeybees (Apis mellifera) were at high risk, due to numerous factors, including land degradation and the use of pesticides, she said.

‘Many wild pollinators are in trouble’

wild pollinators

Native bee populations such as the rusty patched bumblebee (Bombus Affinis) were being listed as severely threatened in terms of the Endangered Species Act in the US, as populations had declined by an estimated 90%. This species had long been a key pollinator of various fruit crops such as cranberries, plums, apples, and other agricultural plants.

The research team discovered that two well-known RNA viruses found in honeybees, the deformed wing virus, and the black queen cell virus, were Bees Domestic honeybee diseases that threaten wild bumblebees more prevalent in the bumblebees collected less than 300m from commercial beehives. The study also found that active infections of the deformed wing virus were higher near commercial apiaries, but no deformed wing virus infections were found in the bumblebees collected where foraging honeybees and apiaries were absent.

The results of the research suggested that “viruses in managed honeybees are spilling over to wild bumblebee populations and flowers are an important route”, said Prof Alison Brody of the university’s Department of Biology and senior author of the study.

“Careful monitoring and treating of diseased honeybee colonies could protect wild bees from these viruses as well as other pathogens or parasites,” Alger said there was a connection between the long-distance transportation of honeybees for commercial pollination and the spread of diseases. 

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