A mite that spreads a dangerous virus among honeybees also plays an indirect role in the infection of wild bumblebees, new research shows.
The Varroa destructor mite lives on honeybees and can spread the deformed winged virus (DWV) throughout the hive.
The mite has emerged as a parasite of western honeybees after it had changed from its original host, the Asian honey bee, to the beginning of the last century. Since then, it has spread worldwide through the man-made movement of infested honey bees and has become a viral vector.
The invasive mite does not live on bumblebees, but researchers at the University of Exeter have found that it indirectly influences them by increasing infection rates in honeybees, which then spread DWV to nearby bumblebees.
Researchers said that beekeepers need to treat mite-infested honeybee colonies to protect wild bees.
"We compared areas where honeybees Varroa destroyers had mites with mite-free areas," Dr. Robyn Manley from the Center for Ecology and Conservation at the Penryn campus of the University of Exeter in Cornwall.
"In areas where mites were present ̵
Much of the honeybees in the UK and many other countries live in hives held by beekeepers, and Manley said the study raised an important issue for her. "Some beekeepers prefer not to pick mites in their colonies, but this could endanger wild bees," she said.
Varroa destructor mites DWV have spread as parasites in honeybee and adult male adults, resulting in dramatic losses in colonies due to increased hibernation mortality.
"There is a global DWV epidemic, partly due to the spread of the Varroa destructor mite," said Professor Wilfert of the University of Ulm.
"We know the virus has a major impact on honeybee colonies, but less research has been done on wild bumblebee, but studies indicate it can shorten its lifespan, underscoring the importance of beekeepers "Supervisors and landscape administrators in maintaining the health of both managed colonies of honeybees and wild bee populations."
There are several DWV strains, and the Exeter study confirms the view that DWV-B is the DWV-A strain of the country most commonly occurring strain takes over. DWV-B is known to be more damaging to honeybees, but it is not yet clear if and how the strains affect wild bumblebees differently.
The paper, published in the journal Ecology Letters is titled: "Knock-on-Community Effects of a Novel Vector: Scattering of New DWV-B from Varroa Infested Honeybees into Wild Bumblebees."
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retrieved on June 13, 2019
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