A large number of crops depend on wild bees, which are now in danger. Their population has seen a significant decline in recent years, affecting the pollination of many of the fruits and vegetables we consume. A recent study identified a new cause of death: viral infections spread by managed bees. These infections might be transmitted when wild bees visit the same flowers as managed bees.
How do we know?
A group of researchers from the University of Vermont and the University of Florida assessed the presence of the virus in wild bees in 19 areas in Vermont and found that the virus’s presence was much more common in wild bees that lived less than 328 yards from managed apiaries. They also found that 19% of the flowers sampled in areas near these apiaries were infected with the virus. They found no infected flowers more than .6 miles (1 kilometer) from the managed bees. The researchers propose rethinking how bee farming is managed, as well as monitoring and curing the diseases in managed bees. Managed bees should be carefully located to reduce the spread of diseases and other pathogens to wild pollinators.