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Diseases Spread From Honeybees to Wild Bumblebees

Diseases Spread From Honeybees to Wild Bumblebees

Photo courtesy of WallpapersCraft.
Photo courtesy of WallpapersCraft.

More bad news for our pollinator friends.

A new study published today in the journal Nature found that wild bees across the Americas, Europe and Asia are declining as a result of deadly diseases being contracted from commercialized honeybees. The study, which stopped short of proving direct bee-to-bee transmission, said diseases are likely spread primarily through flowers visited by infected honeybees (and also when bumblebees raid honeybee hives in search of nectar). Wild bumblebees, which grow to roughly twice the size of their honeybee cousins, pollinate a significant portion of the worlds flowers and food crops—from greenhouse tomatoes and peppers to watermelon and blueberries. The scientific research shows that that bumblebees are impacted more by disease than honeybees, since their hives usually only numbers in the hundreds, as opposed to the tens of thousands of workers typically found in honeybee colonies.
Resources has a list of things you can do to help the beneficial insects
Bumblebee Conservation Trust, in the UK, offers tips on “Gardening for Bumblebees”
Where’s the Buzz? Few Bees in the Garden
Of Milkweed and Monarchs | Saving the Beneficial Butterfly
Free Guides to Attracting Garden Pollinators


  1. annie
    February 19, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Looks like we gardeners are going to have to really step it up to help the bees. Along with the other bee plants in my garden, I’m growing phacelia for the bees this year. One of the best plants for them because the plant offers both pollen and nectar and they adore it.

    1. The Editors of Garden Variety
      February 19, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      You’re absolutely right. Seems like it’s up to us. It’s great that you’re doing your part by growing more bee-friendly plants. Hopefully, more gardeners will step up to save these wonderful (and essential) little creatures.

    2. 1dreamingirl
      February 20, 2014 at 5:40 am

      Count me in – butterfly plants too. I’m giving the pollinators their own garden, and adding lots of flowering things to the main veggie garden as well.

  2. thebiotrotter
    February 20, 2014 at 6:23 am

    As from what I’ve heard about 50% of food crop pollination is made by domesticated bees and they are also an important pollinator for many other plants. The dying of bees is happening on a global level and also to the domesticated ones. The disease may spread through the domesticated bees but they are not the origin of the problem. The origin is still to be found

    1. The Editors of Garden Variety
      February 20, 2014 at 8:20 am

      Yes, the experts say honeybees carry the disease, but the actual cause is still unknown (though many point to agricultural chemical pesticides and other contributing factors as possible culprits).

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