Science and Health

Diseases Plaguing Honeybees Can Spread To Wild Bees

Two diseases that plague honeybees can spread to wild bumblebees, posing threats to the world's decreasing bee population.

Diseases Plaguing Honeybees Can Spread To Wild Bees
Wikimedia Commons / Jon Sullivan

Bumblebees around the world might soon be in more trouble than they already are.

A new study published in the journal Nature found two diseases plaguing honeybees could possibly spread to wild bumblebees. Bumblebee populations are already in decline in the U.K., and some species have even gone extinct.

The researchers say their findings are crucial for the world's bee population because the diseases are currently treated as if they can only threaten honeybees. (Via The Guardian)

But traces of the two diseases left on flowers can then infect worker bumblebees and greatly reduce their life spans. One of the diseases, called deformed wing virus, is a main cause of honeybee deaths worldwide. (Via BBC)

Researchers say if the diseases aren't controlled, there could be devastating effects on crops that are pollinated by wild bees.

And a reduced number of pollinators could mean fewer bees all around. According to BBC, one of the study's researchers says a bee's shorter life span in the field "would impact on their ability to go out and collect food and look after other bees."

But those diseases might not be the only things our buzzing insect friends have to worry about.

Time reports another study last month found the pollen-borne tobacco ringspot virus might be attacking infected honeybees' nervous systems and contributing to smaller bee colonies during winter months.

Pesticides used on plants also pose dangers to bees' immune systems. Just last summer in Oregon, about 55,000 bees died from two chemicals found in some insecticides. (Via KATU)

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 2.5 million bee colonies have disappeared since the 1940s.