Bee numbers have been plummeting around the world for some time baffling scientists and leaving ecologists extremely worried. A new study may have pinpointed the cause, and it’s an extremely unlikely source – beekeepers.
A US study, published in the journal PLOS One, concluded that at least two fatal infections were more prevalent among bumblebees found near apiaries, with researchers alleging that viruses can spread from managed hives to wild bees when insects pollinate the same flowers.
Both the deformed wing virus and the black queen cell virus have been linked in the past to the destruction of bee colonies, and researchers found them on one in five flowers, but only from their sites, which are visited by bees from managed hives.
Lead author Dr Samantha Alger, of Vermont University in New England, said it suggested that “viruses are spilling over from managed honey bees into wild species… through the shared use of flowers”.
Beekeeping has become an increasingly popular past-time of late, with the British Beekeepers Association’s membership rising from about 8,500 in 2008 to more than 24,000 in 2017 according to the BBC.