Scientists at the University of Exeter and UC Berkeley have pinpointed the source of the global bee populations decline. A virus pinned to the European honeybee causes global bee populations to collapse.
Much has been said about the colony collapse syndrome which has caused bee population around the world to perish in the millions. Toxic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and other chemical substances have taken their toll on global bee populations.
However, little research has been dedicated to the source of this global problem. Now, researchers at the University of Exeter, UC Berkeley and colleagues from the University of Sheffield, Salford, Cambridge and ETH Zurich gained ground on pinning the reason behind the global decimation of bee populations.
European honeybee known as Apis mellifera have been the ‘patient-zero’ for the Deformed Wing Virus. As bee populations are declining worldwide, European honeybees have been transported to different regions to aid with crop pollinations. On the one hand, without their help, crop yield would suffer immensely. On the other hand, the European honeybees have been identified as the source of the Deformed Wing Virus.
In addition to the crippling virus causing entire colonies to perish, the research team also identified the Varroa mite as the source of the disease. The Varroa mite carries the disease. In addition, it feeds on the larvae once it is installed in the colony. The double threat to global bee populations is ultimately on us. Without fully understanding the risks of moving bee populations across borders, we have taken a regional virus to a worldwide spread.
Several studies have pinpointed the risks that decimating bee populations inflict on the global economy, human health, biodiversity and food security in the end. Identifying the exact factors leading to the death of honey bees could help develop a well-defined framework for action.
The main finding of the study published in the Science journal is that a virus pinned to the European honeybee causes global bee populations to collapse. According to the lead author of the study, Doctor Lena Wilfert with the University of Exeter’s Center for Ecology and Conservation:
“This is the first study to conclude that Europe is the backbone of the global spread of the bee killing combination of Deformed Wing Virus and Varroa”.
Doctor Wilfert added further that man is behind this perilous trend. The Varroa mite and the Deformed Wing Virus could not be occurring naturally across the world. If this were the case, the transmission between countries close geographically would be more evident.
However, the research team found that the European honeybee influenced the bee populations of New Zealand. These findings were derived from analyzing data on the spread of the Deformed Wing Virus via samples collected globally from Varroa mites and honeybees.
The epidemic was found to have extended from Europe to North America, as well as Australia and New Zealand. Despite being geographically closer, Asia and Australia couldn’t be linked in a two-way movement.
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