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Bee virus spreading: Deadly diseases hitting wild honeybees, populations shrink

A bee virus spreading from honeybees to their kin, wild bumblebees, may lead to serious consequences if this deadly disease hitting these buzzing insects isn’t managed soon. With populations shrinking at an alarming rate, one animal expert says that overall bee numbers are declining in areas ranging from Europe to the U.S. to Asia. The Epoch Times reports this Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, that the illness that first struck honeybees is causing even more damage to the bumblebee populace than their kin due to higher susceptibility.

Bees dying due to a deadly animal virus
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

While wild bumblebees may not be transferred from farm to farm for honey like domestic honeybees are, the bee virus spreading among commercialized animals to their cousins is leaving only ruin in its wake. These yellow and black animals constitute a considerable amount of the world’s pollination in terms of both food and flowers, particularly greenhouse tomatoes. The disease harming these bumblebees is even said in one study to be due to a large influx of spillover parasites, disease, and pathogens from already controlled honeybee hives.

“Wild populations of bumblebees appear to be in significant decline across Europe, North America, South America and also in Asia,” said study author Mark Brown of the University of London.

Several related studies have also hinted that this massive bee virus is spreading on both sides from both honeybees to wild bumblebees and back. As stated in Brown’s finding, his study is the first examination conducted on these animals’ disease in a large scale investigating a number of potential parasites. A total of 750 bees in over 25 regions were closely monitored throughout the UK, while his research lab scrutinized captive bees infected with the virus up close.

While shrinking bee populations may not seem a serious threat initially, insect experts say that there is a very important connection (complex and distant though it may be) between bee cycles and human life.

It is believed that the honeybees are spreading the disease to wild bumblebees unwillingly after the bumblebees visit the same flower that the infected animals already pollinated. A co-author of the bee virus study noted that although there remains no concrete proof that the virus is being spread from cousin to cousin just yet, it is a very possible theory due to infection rates of bumblebees being linked to that of their honey-loving kin.