Bee colony collapse viruses spreading to bumblebees


Infectious diseases linked to the colony collapse of honeybees appear to be spreading among wild bumblebees that pollinate crops worldwide, dealing a potential double blow to agriculture, according to a new study.

Studies at 26 sites in England found that 1 in 5 bees suffered from deformed wing virus, which can ground and eventually kill the insects, according to a report published online Wednesday in the journal Nature.

More than a third of the honeybees were infected, and about 11% of the bumblebees carried the virus – figures that researchers called highly conservative. Evidence of another deadly parasite, the Nocema ceranae microspore, was less prevalent.

Although the path of the infection could not be determined with certainty, researchers said it very likely spreads from the honeybees, 88% of which carried actively replicating virus. Foraging from the same flowers probably accounts for the bulk of infection, while raiding of competitors’ hives could contribute as well, the researchers said.

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