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Wild Bumblebees Are Being Infected With Managed Honeybees

Update Date: Feb 21, 2014 09:44 AM EST

Wild bumblebees are on the verge of extinction and the reason is that they are contracting deadly diseases from ailing domesticated honeybees, according to a new research. 

The findings of the research addresses vital questions like why the bee population are at decline which scientists have been pondering over. 

"Wild and managed bees are in decline at national and global scales. Given their central role in pollinating wildflowers and crops, it is essential that we understand what lies behind these declines. Our results suggest that emerging diseases, spread from managed bees, may be an important cause of wild bee decline," said lead researcher Dr. Matthias Fürst from the Royal Holloway University of London in the press release. 

Researchers assessed common honeybee diseases to determine if the same could be transferred to bumblebees. They found that the deformed wing virus (DWV) and the fungal parasite Nosema ceranae both proved to have a negative impact on honeybee health. 

"One of the novel aspects of our study is that we show that deformed wing virus, which is one of the main causes of honeybee deaths worldwide, is not only broadly present in bumblebees, but is actually replicating inside them. This means that it is acting as a real disease; they are not just carriers," Dr. Fürst explained.

Researchers also highlighted three factors that suggested honeybees are spreading the parasites into wild bumblebees. 

"We have known for a long time that parasites are behind declines in honeybees," said study co-author Professor Mark Brown, also of the Royal Holloway University of London, according to RedOrbit.

"What our data show is that these same pathogens are circulating widely across our wild and managed pollinators. Infected honeybees can leave traces of disease, like a fungal spore or virus particle, on the flowers that they visit and these may then infect wild bees."

The findings of the study are published in the journal Nature

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