It’s bad news for bumblebees. The two pathogens which are infecting honeybees and playing a role in Colony Collapse Disorder are now spreading to their insect cousins. A study published in the journal Nature revealed that disease spillover long assumed by scientists is now clearly present in the bumble population.
Deformed wing virus (DWV) has become devastation to honeybees, according to Royal Holloway University of London researchers. DWV causes wing deformities in honeybees, especially when the pollinator are playing host to blood-sucking Varroa mites. A fungus which causes intestinal inflammation and other health issues in honeybees is also not negatively impacting bumblebees as well.
Excerpt from National Geographic Bumblebees report:
“The loss of honeybees and other pollinators like wild bumblebees could devastate agriculture. Pollinators are estimated to do nearly $200 billion in ‘work’ around the world each year. Managed honeybees pollinate many of the most economically important crops, such as fruits and nuts, as well as foods like alfalfa that cattle eat. Other insects, including wild bumblebees, are less well studied but no less important; they may pollinate as many as half of all animal-pollinated plants—and are much more efficient at the job than honeybees, boosting the output and size of fruits, for example.”
GMO crop and chemical herbicides have also been widely blamed for the destruction of the bee population. A study by the journal Ecology Letters states that “extended periods of stress” can cause the failure of a bee colony. Scientists at the University of London believe that when bees are exposed to even low levels of neonicotinoids, behavioral changes occur and work inside the colony ceases.Neonicotinoids are one of the primary chemical ingredients in Monsanto agricultural products.
The bee colony collapse study also revealed that exposure to chemical pesticides like neonicotinoids in crop fields impact individual bees. The exposure to popular chemical herbicides and pesticides like Monsanto manufactures by even a single bee can cause a honeybee colony to fail.
Lead scientist John Bryden had this to say about the impact of chemical herbicides on the bee population:
“One in three mouthfuls of our food depend on bee pollination. By understanding the complex way in which colonies fail and die, we’ve made a crucial step in being able to link bee declines to pesticides and other factors, such as habitat loss and disease which can all contribute to colony failure. Exposing bees to pesticides is a bit like adding more and more weight on someone’s shoulders. A person can keep walking normally under a bit of weight, but when it gets too much – they collapse. Similarly, bee colonies can keep growing when bees aren’t too stressed, but if stress levels get too high the colony will eventually fail.”
Fellow study author Vincent Jansen noted that the research project also provided significant insights into the biological process of the little pollinators. Jansen also added that the researchers found the manner in which bees work together is intriguing and that the failure of the insects to work together can also contribute to colony failure and the decline of the hive.
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