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Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and University of Exeter have discovered that the European honeybee Apis mellifera is the source of the devastating Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) bee disease and that the spread is caused by humans, particularly due to the transport and sales of bees for crop pollination, according to Tech Times.
"People didn't on purpose do this. People don't go to the trouble of sending bee queens to the States for stupid reasons. They do it to get better hives or honey, to get more pollination. Until recently we didn't understand how common it is to spread diseases that way," said Lena Wilfren, a lecturer at the University of Exeter and the lead author of the study, according to The Washington Post.
As reported By Science Daily, although separately they are not major threats to bee populations, when the Varroa mite carries the disease, the combination is deadly, and has wiped out millions of honeybees over recent decades.
Varroa feed on bee larvae while the Deformed Wing Virus kills off bees, a devastating double blow to colonies. The situation is adding to fears over the future of global bee populations, with major implications for biodiversity, agricultural biosecurity, global economies, and human health.
A virus that typically infects plants was found in honey bees and could help explain their decline, researchers in the U.S. and China wrote in a study in the American Society of Microbiology’s online journal mBio.