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UVM Study Suggests Honeybee Viruses Contribute To Wild Bumblebee Decline

Managed bees entering and leaving a hive.
Pat Wellenbach
A study from the University of Vermont suggests that viruses transmitted by managed honeybees is one explanation for the decline in Vermont's bumblebee population.

A recent study by the University of Vermont and the Vermont Center for Ecostudies researcher suggests viruses from managed bees have spread from apiaries to wild bumblebees. UVM researcher and pollinator specialist Samantha Alger shared her findings with Vermont Edition.

A review of 100 years of bumblebee records revealed four of Vermont's 17 bumblebee species appear to have gone extinct.

Pesticides, global warming and habitat loss are some of the explanations for the decline. Another is the spread of viruses. 

Alger says diseases common to honeybees were found to be more prevalent among wild bumblebees collected near managed honeybee apiaries.

Viruses like deformed wing virus and black queen cell virus are not well understood. But researchers suspect the pathogens are being transmitted through shared pollination sites in nearby flowers and crops.

Listen to the full interview above to hear Alger discuss her findings and how they can inform proper domestic bee management.

Broadcast live on Tuesday, July 2, 2019 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

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