Viruses Plaguing Honeybees May be Spreading to Wild Bees

We depend on bees and other pollinators to pollinate our crops to produce food.  In recent years, there has been a marked decline in the number of pollinators due to colony collapse disorder (CCD) – a syndrome that wipes out entire colonies of domesticated bees.  The exact cause of CCD is unknown but it is thought to be a virus and it doesn’t appear to yet affect wild pollinators.

Researchers at the Pennsylvania State University have been studying virus transmission between domesticated bees and wild bees to determine if a virus could be transmitted from a domesticated colony to a wild colony.  The conclusions are grim.

Five strains of viruses in colonies of domesticated bees were examined and it was found that the virus turned up in wild bee populations near the colonies.  Interestingly though, the virus showed up in the pollen on the wild bees, but the wild bees themselves were not infected.

The results suggest that pollen can be used to transmit disease among bees – domesticated or wild.  Such research is quite important because pollination is a key component of crop growth and yield.

The researchers fear that such viruses may be a threat to wild pollinators and are responsible for their decline in recent (in addition to the decline of domesticated bees).

Via: Wired Science

Photo cred: Flickr Creative Commons by aussiegall

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