Wild Pollinators Share Pathogens

By: Amy Grisak,  HobbyFarms.com
February 8, 2011

Article Excerpt:

As if the concern of colony collapse disorder, a mysterious condition that devastates Honey bee colonies seemingly overnight, isn’t worrisome enough to those of us who love our bees in the garden, there is evidence wild pollinators are susceptible to many of the same diseases as Honey bees when they share flowers.

In a December 2010 Penn State University study involving apiaries in Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania, researchers confirmed pathogens can be transmitted from Honey bees to wild pollinators when both use the same pollen source. The 11 wild pollinators studied, including the sweat bee and a bumble bee species, contracted all five of the viruses used in the study.

Researchers took samples of the studied species in proximity to hives that were infected with the viruses as well as ones that were not infected. The results demonstrated that the viruses can move from one species to another via pollen. What the study does not conclude is the overall impact and whether it’s prevalent in an uncontrolled situation.

“Unlike Honey bees, wild native bees are not well monitored,” says Eric Mader, assistant pollinator program director at the Xerces Society, an organization dedicated to the conservation of invertebrates.

Bee losses from pesticides or other reasons largely go unnoticed.

Continued Article Summary:

Amy Grisak continues to write on concern for the decline seen in many North American bumble bee species, citing a November 2010 University of Illinois study. The study notes the prevalence of a parasite affecting the species higher in decline; but the article also examines how specific causes for the bumble bees’ lower numbers remain uncertain.

Although a panic for the health of the species is not present, Ms. Grisak notes that the importance of their role in pollination cannot be ignored. To promote the health of native pollinators several forms of action are discussed. From planting native species to create a pollinator-friendly habitat to avoiding use of pesticides by seeking alternative options, the article gives various examples for a gardener to create a backyard habitat that will assist the native pollinator’s plight.

Read the article in full at HobbyFarms.com