Nav: Home

Honeybee mite raises bumblebee virus risk

June 12, 2019

A mite that spreads a dangerous virus among honeybees also plays an indirect role in infecting wild bumblebees, new research shows.

The Varroa destructor mite lives on honeybees and can spread deformed wing virus (DWV) throughout the hive.

The mite has emerged as a parasite of Western honeybees, after switching from its original host, the Asian honeybee at the beginning of the last century. It has since spread globally through the man-made movement of infested honeybee hives and has turned into a viral vector.

The invasive mite does not live on bumblebees, but University of Exeter scientists have discovered it indirectly affects them by raising infection rates among honeybees, which then spread DWV to nearby bumblebees.

The researchers say their findings highlight the need for beekeepers to treat honeybee colonies affected by mites in order to protect wild bees.

"We compared areas where honeybees had Varroa destructor mites with mite-free areas," said Dr Robyn Manley, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

"In areas where mites were present - and therefore spreading DWV among honeybees - we found higher rates of the virus among wild bumblebees. Infected honeybees share their environment with bumblebees, feeding on the same flowers and passing on the virus. In effect, the mites turn honeybees into 'super spreaders' of DWV."

A large proportion of honeybees in Britain and many other countries live in hives kept by beekeepers, and Dr Manley said the study raised an important point for them. "Some beekeepers prefer not to intervene if mites appear in their colonies, but this could be endangering wild bees," she said.

As parasites on honeybee pupae and adults, Varroa destructor mites spread DWV - which is associated with dramatic colony losses due to increased over-winter mortality.

"There is a global epidemic of DWV, partly driven by the spread of the Varroa destructor mite," said Professor Wilfert, of the University of Ulm, Germany.

"We know the virus severely affects honeybee colonies. There has been less research into the impact on wild bumblebees, but studies so far suggest it can reduce their lifespan. These results emphasise the important role of beekeepers, regulators and landscape managers in maintaining the health of both managed honeybees and wild bee populations."

There are various strains of DWV, and the Exeter study supports the view that DWV-B is taking over from DWV-A as the most prevalent strain. DWV-B is known to be more harmful to honeybees, but it is not yet clear if and how the strains affect wild bumblebees differently.
The research was funded by the Royal Society, the CB Dennis Trust, NERC and the Genetics Society, and supported by the Exeter Sequencing Service.

The paper, published in the journal Ecology Letters, is entitled: "Knock-on community impacts of a novel vector: Spillover of emerging DWV-B from Varroa-infested honeybees to wild bumblebees."

University of Exeter

Related Virus Articles:

A new biosensor for the COVID-19 virus
A team of researchers from Empa, ETH Zurich and Zurich University Hospital has succeeded in developing a novel sensor for detecting the new coronavirus.
How at risk are you of getting a virus on an airplane?
New 'CALM' model on passenger movement developed using Frontera supercomputer.
Virus multiplication in 3D
Vaccinia viruses serve as a vaccine against human smallpox and as the basis of new cancer therapies.
How the Zika virus can spread
The spread of infectious diseases such as Zika depends on many different factors.
Fighting the herpes virus
New insights into preventing herpes infections have been published in Nature Communications.
Strategies of a honey bee virus
Heidelberg, 23 October 2019 - The Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus is a pathogen that affects honey bees and has been linked to Colony Collapse Disorder, a key factor in decimating the bee population.
Tracking the HI virus
A European research team led by Prof. Christian Eggeling from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT), and the University of Oxford has now succeeded in using high-resolution imaging to make visible to the millisecond how the HI virus spreads between living cells and which molecules it requires for this purpose.
Prior Zika virus or dengue virus infection does not affect secondary infections in monkeys
Previous infection with either Zika virus or dengue virus has no apparent effect on the clinical course of subsequent infection with the other virus, according to a study published August 1 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by David O'Connor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and colleagues.
Smartphone virus scanner is not what you think
The current leading method to assess the presence of viruses and other biological markers of disease is effective but large and expensive.
Early dengue virus infection could "defuse" zika virus
The Zika virus outbreak in Latin America has affected over 60 million people up to now.
More Virus News and Virus Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Clint Smith
The killing of George Floyd by a police officer has sparked massive protests nationwide. This hour, writer and scholar Clint Smith reflects on this moment, through conversation, letters, and poetry.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at