Do Domestic Honeybees Harm Wild Bumblebees?
In the United Kingdom, beekeepers are being blamed by many for creating an environment where germs and diseases can thrive and spread to wild bees.
According to an article in the Daily Mail, beekeeping is more popular than ever, possibly due in part to the fact celebrities are also getting involved. The article states that the British Beekeepers Association reported a soaring increase in membership, from 8,500 in 2008 to over 24,000 this year.
The theory, now backed up by a recent study, is that infected honeybees from apiaries share the same flowers around their hives with wild bumblebees nesting in the area. Since both are pollinating the same flowers, these bumblebees have a higher infection rate than the regular bumblebee population.
The two fatal infections being found in bumblebees near apiaries, according to a US study which was published in the PLOS One Journal, are the Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV) and the Deformed Wing Virus (DWV).
The lead author of the report was Dr. Samantha Alger of Vermont University in New England. She stated that the evidence suggests that ‘viruses are spilling over from managed honeybees into the wild bumblebee population through the shared use of flowers.’
The most alarming finding is that these were found on one of every five flowers tested, all on site in apiaries.
Black Queen Cell Virus comes from a virus in the Cripavirus genus and causes death in queen bee pupae. The dead queen bee larvae turn yellow, then brown, then black. The virus mainly attacks queens while they are in development stage, although some workers and drones contract the virus, they show no symptoms.
Deformed Wing Virus is an RNA viral disease, of which there are 22 known to affect honeybees. It is named after the most frequent deformity caused to the honeybee, which is shrunken or deformed wings, but other problems may also arise.
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