Humans To Blame For Declining Bee Populations - Study
Human activities are to blame for the recent decline in bee populations, according to a new study.
Researchers have found that a lethal disease affecting bees that originates from European bee populations has spread across the globe due to the practice of importing infected honeybees, writes Nature World News.
According to the researchers from the Universities of Exeter and California, Berkeley, a "double blow" has hit bee colonies. The combination of Deformed Wing Virus and Varroa mites, which feed on bee larvae, has resulted in the destruction of millions of honeybees in recent decades.
But researchers believe that they finally know where most of the infected hives have come from - the European honeybee (Apis mellifera)
"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," lead author Dr. Lena Wilfert, of the University of Exeter's Centre for Ecology and Conservation, said in a news release. "This demonstrates that the spread of this combination is largely manmade - if the spread was naturally occurring, we would expect to see transmission between countries that are close to each other, but we found that, for example, the New Zealand virus population originated in Europe."
Bee exchanges, particularly that of queen bees, is a common practice among beekeepers in order to improve crop pollination. The researchers collected and studied genetic samples collected from honeybees and Varroa mites sourced from 32 different locations in 17 countries.
"This significantly strengthens the theory that human transportation of bees is responsible for the spread of this devastating disease. We must now maintain strict limits on the movement of bees, whether they are known to carry Varroa or not," Wilfert added in a news release. "It's also really important that beekeepers at all levels take steps to control Varroa in their hives, as this viral disease can also affect wild pollinators."
The study was published in the journal Science.