Zoology

Bee trade spreads parasites

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
500,
Page:
8
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/500008b
Published online

The international trade in beehives distributes dangerous parasites around the world.

William Hughes at the University of Sussex, UK, and his colleagues investigated 48 commercially produced hives of buff-tailed bumblebees (Bombus terrestris). Despite being certified as parasite-free by their producers, more than 75% of the hives carried microbial parasites. Uninfected bees that were fed faeces or pollen collected from the commercial hives subsequently tested positive for parasites and had shorter lifespans.

Worldwide, more than one million bumblebee hives are shipped every year, and the authors suggest that imported hives could infect native pollinators.

J. Appl. Ecol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12134 (2013)

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