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Pandemic Decimating Bee Populations Worldwide Is Man-Made And Driven By European Honeybees

5 February 2016, 6:35 am EST By Katherine Derla Tech Times
Study found that the pandemic that is currently destroying bee populations around the world is man-made. The Deformed Wing Virus is largely driven by the European honeybee Apis mellifera populations.  ( Paul Rollings | Flickr )

There is a disease currently destroying bee populations around the world. New study found that the disease is manmade and is being driven by the honeybee populations in Europe called the Apis mellifera.

The dreaded Deformed Wing Virus is destroying bee hives around the world. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and University of Exeter discovered that the European honeybee Apis mellifera is the source of the devastating bee disease. Furthermore, the spread is manmade and it's due to the transport and sales of bees for crop pollination.

Separately, the honeybee Apis mellifera is not deadly to the bee populations. The deadly combination comes when the Varroa mite becomes the disease-carrier. The mite eats the bee larvae then the Deformed Wing Virus casts the finishing, deadly blow. The combination has resulted in major wipe outs of millions of honeybee populations in the past few decades.

The situation is casting doubts on global bee populations in the future. The global bee pandemic carries major biodiversity and biosecurity impacts, which can affect human health and worldwide economies.

"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," said study lead author Dr. Lena Wilfert from the University of Exeter's Centre for Ecology and Conservation.

Wilfert added that if the disease was a naturally occurring phenomenon, it is expected that it will be transmitted largely among nearby countries. The findings support the theory that manmade transport of bees is to blame for the widespread transmission of the disease.

The researchers suggested that firmer limitations on bee transportation should be maintained regardless if they are believed to be carrying the Varroa mites or not. Beekeepers across all levels should take measures to control the Varroa mites in the bee hives. The viral bee disease can also affect other pollinators.

"The consequences can be devastating, both for domestic animals and for wildlife. The risk of introducing viruses or other pathogens is just one of many potential dangers," said University of Sheffield's Evolutionary Biology Professor Roger Butlin. The University of Sheffield made contributions to the study.

The research was published in the journal Science.

Photo: Paul Rollings | Flickr

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