Feature: Protecting the pollinators part 2 – bees and disease

argylesock says… Here’s the second of three articles about pollinators, from the Wellcome Trust blog, which I’m passing on today.

Wellcome Trust Blog

False-coloured scanning electron micrograph of a honeybee. Credit: David McCarthy and Annie Cavanagh/Wellcome Images.

Insect pollinators, including honeybees, bumblebees and hoverflies, are in decline. The £10 million Insect Pollinators Initiative aims to find out why. In the second of two articles, Chrissie Giles looks at four of the projects funded through the initiative to find out what the researchers are planning.

For years, a pathogen called deformed wing virus existed in honeybees in the UK. It caused no visible symptoms and appeared to have little effect on the health of the infected bees. This all changed when the Varroa destructor mite invaded the UK in 1992. The levels of deformed wing virus in bees exploded, leading to catastrophic consequences for hives all over the country.

The Varroa mite that transmits deformed wing virus can have a devastating effect on honeybees, but it and this virus are by no means the only threat to these insects. A number of other viruses and microorganisms can infect…

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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