A species of bee from Europe that has stronger resistance to parasite infections than native bumblebees has spread across the UK, according to new research at Royal Holloway, University of London.
The study, published today (Wednesday 4th June 2014) in the Journal of Animal Ecology, shows that tree bumblebees have rapidly spread despite them carrying high levels of an infection that normally prevents queen bees from producing colonies.
The species arrived in the UK from continental Europe 13 years ago and has successfully spread at an average rate of nearly 4,500 square miles – about half the size of Wales – every year.
Researchers collected tree bumblebee queens from the wild, checked them for parasites and then monitored colony development in a laboratory.
Despite the bees having low genetic diversity and high levels of a nematode parasite that usually castrates other species, 25 per cent of the queens were able to produce offspring.
Scientists believe the spread of tree bumblebees could have both positive and negative impacts on native bees.
"Since its arrival to the UK, the tree bumblebee has been rapidly spreading despite high levels of this castrating parasite", said researcher Catherine Jones, from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway.
"Bees are essential to our food chain and the populations of our native bumblebees have declined in recent decades. The arrival of tree bumblebees could be hugely beneficial to us by absorbing parasite pressure from our native species, as well as helping to pollinate wild plants and crops."
Professor Mark Brown, from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, added: "While these findings show promising signs for bee populations in the UK, we still don't know whether there could be any negative impacts if the bumblebees compete for food or nesting sites. Further research should focus on how our native bees are affected and the pollination services that this new species provides."
Paul Teed | Eurek Alert!
Are Fish Getting High on Cocaine?
28.07.2015 | McGill University
Inbreeding not to blame for Colorado's bighorn sheep population decline
27.07.2015 | University of Colorado at Boulder
Researchers have developed an ultrafast light-emitting device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.
Joint BioEnergy Institute study identifies bacterial protein that is key to protecting rice against bacterial blight
A bacterial signal that when recognized by rice plants enables the plants to resist a devastating blight disease has been identified by a multi-national team...
Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to delivering smart windows with a new level of energy efficiency, engineering materials that allow windows to reveal light without transferring heat and, conversely, to block light while allowing heat transmission, as described in two new research papers.
By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce costs for...
Argonne scientists used Mira to identify and improve a new mechanism for eliminating friction, which fed into the development of a hybrid material that exhibited superlubricity at the macroscale for the first time. Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) researchers helped enable the groundbreaking simulations by overcoming a performance bottleneck that doubled the speed of the team's code.
While reviewing the simulation results of a promising new lubricant material, Argonne researcher Sanket Deshmukh stumbled upon a phenomenon that had never been...
A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away.
The color images of Earth from NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) are generated by combining three separate images to create a...
23.07.2015 | Event News
10.07.2015 | Event News
25.06.2015 | Event News
29.07.2015 | Physics and Astronomy
29.07.2015 | Life Sciences
29.07.2015 | Awards Funding