Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Managed bees spread and intensify diseases in wild bees


UC Riverside-led research shows wild bees are harmed even when managed bees are disease-free

For various reasons, wild pollinators are in decline across many parts of the world. To combat this, managed honey bees and bumblebees are frequently shipped in to provide valuable pollination services to crops. But does this practice pose any risk to the wild bees?

Photo shows a honey bee and a bumblebee foraging on a purple coneflower.

Credit: Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis.

An entomologist at the University of California, Riverside has examined the evidence by analyzing the large body of research done in this area to come to the conclusion that managed bees are spreading diseases to wild bees.

"Even in cases when the managed bees do not have a disease, they still stress local wild bees, making them more susceptible to disease," said Peter Graystock, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Entomology and the lead author of a paper published online last week in the International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife.

The work is a review of a vast amount of research in this area, incorporating studies that utilize advanced disease screening. It lists the problems managed bees cause and suggests avenues to limit further damage.

"The use of managed honeybees and bumblebees is linked with several cases of increased disease and population declines in wild bees," Graystock said. "This is shown in various countries around the world and is not always because the managed bees are carrying a disease. Loss of wild pollinators will ultimately either reduce crop yields or increase the reliance on and cost of shipping in more managed bees. This increased cost will cascade down to consumers, raising the price of food we put on our tables."

By studying various examples from across the world, Graystock and his colleagues came up with a list of recommendations to enable the use of managed bees while minimizing their impact on wild bees.

"Primarily, this includes frequently screening for disease in managed bees and the employment of strategies to minimize mixing between managed and wild bees," Graystock said.

He noted that the globalized trade in bees has enabled almost free movement of diseases around the world. The movement of honey bees, he said, is the likely cause of the emergence of two of the most harmful honeybee diseases in countless countries in the last 50 years: Nosema ceranae and the Varroa mite.

"In addition, the more recent trade in bumblebees is responsible for importing exotic mites into Japan and appears to be responsible for importing European strains of Nosema bombi into North America and Crithidia bombi into South America," he said.

The authors of the review paper offer suggestions for mitigating the problem. They recommend first that the safety of bee transport be improved by employing rigorous disease screening of bees and creating unified international regulations to prevent the movement of diseased bees. Second, they advise that the mixing of managed bumblebees with wild bees should be prevented by using nets over glasshouses containing managed bumblebees. Finally, they recommend an increased conservation effort to limit the effects of managed bee use in areas suffering wild bee declines.

"The general perception is that managed bees are healthy and that there will be laws in place to prevent harm to the environment," Graystock said. "The more you look into this though, the more you realize that many countries have inadequate or no laws for bee movements and when we are looking at a global industry, this affects everyone. There is no unified law to prevent diseased bee transportation and most bumblebee restrictions are based on honeybee diseases, with little to no requirement to look for bumblebee diseases."

Graystock has researched the effects of managed bees on wild bees for the past 4-5 years. The review article resulted from an invitation to him from the editor of the International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife.


He was joined in the research by Quinn S. McFrederick at UC Riverside; Edward J. Blane at Natural England, Worcester, the United Kingdom; and Dave Goulson and William OH. Hughes at the University of Sussex, the United Kingdom.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion. A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

Media Contact

Iqbal Pittalwala


Iqbal Pittalwala | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Don't Give the Slightest Chance to Toxic Elements in Medicinal Products
23.03.2018 | Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)

nachricht North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>