A common honey bee disease is spread through flowers

phys.org | 2/7/2018 | Staff
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James Cook University scientists have discovered a common honey bee disease can be deadly to native Australian wild bees and can be transmitted by flowers—the first time this link has been made.

JCU's Associate Professor Lori Lach oversaw the study investigating the susceptibility of Australian stingless or "sugar bag" bees to Nosema ceranae—a parasite that causes European honey bees to become less active, develop an increase in appetite, and die prematurely.

Pathogen - Spillover - Bees - Bee - Keepers

"Pathogen spillover from bees kept by bee keepers to wild bee populations is increasingly considered as a possible cause of wild pollinator decline. Spillover has been frequently documented, but not much is known about the pathogen's virulence in wild bees or how long pathogens can survive on a flower," said Terence Purkiss, the honors student who conducted the study.

The scientists found that just over two thirds of the wild bees exposed to the disease caught it, and those that did died at nearly three times the rate of those without it. Most European beehives have been found to contain the disease to some extent.

Scientists - Flowers - Disease

The scientists also found that flowers can transmit the disease.

"About two thirds of the flowers exposed to infected European honey bees were found to be carrying Nosema ceranae spores. In every case, at least one stingless bee that foraged on the flowers contracted the pathogen. What this means is that wild bees can be infected with the disease by sharing a flower with an infected European bee ," said Dr. Lach.

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(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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