Scientists now think that the recent surge of bee colony collapses are not caused by pesticides, instead, by a virus coupled with an aggressive mite. This is according to researchers in England and the United States.
Western View: Bee Colony Collapse Cause Found?
The study indicates the epidemic is man-made, caused by the transporting bees across borders and even oceans for pollination purposes.
It’s interesting that neither the virus nor the mite alone is a major threat to bees. Both the Deformed Wing Virus and the Varroa Mite are known to cause problems, but they were manageable by themselves. But when they are found together they are devastating to colonies because the Varroa Mites feed on bee larvae while the Deformed Wing Virus kills off the adult bees. This is a devastating double blow to colonies.
The study was led by scientists from the University of Exeter in Cornwall, England, and UC Berkeley in California. Results were published February 5, 2016, in the journal Science. The lead author was Dr. Lena Wilfert, who is with Exeter’s Centre for Ecology and Conservation. She says the study demonstrates that the spread of the combination of virus and Varroa Mite was human-caused as it followed the paths of bees being shipped, often internationally and to regions that are not close to each other.
Professor Roger Butlin, from the University of Sheffield in the UK, said that the study found that the combined impact is a major threat to honeybee populations across the world, and this threat has been driven by the trade and movement of honeybee colonies. If the problems are left unchecked, the viral disease will impact global agriculture, and could easily spread into the wild, with an impact on native pollinators world-wide.
Domesticated honeybee colonies are hugely important to agriculture, but this study shows the risk of moving animals and plants around the world. The consequences can be devastating, both for domestic animals and for wildlife. If this study is accurate, we need to pay attention to this problem and solve it quickly.
I’m Len Wilcox and That’s the Western View from AgNet West.