Green Fingers I Wish

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Wild Bumblebees Affected By Disease

Wild bumblebees are probably contracting a disorienting and often fatal disease from their commercial cousins, contributing to the decline of pollinators in North America, a Canadian study concludes.

Managed bumblebees, which pollinate crops worth about $19 billion worldwide, are introducing illnesses that have ravaged wild populations of the same species, according to the study, which is being published online today in the science journal PLoS One. Feral bee losses also harm commercial hives, which are built partly by collecting from the wild.

Bumblebees are the second-biggest pollinating insect in the U.S. after honeybees, which are threatened by Colony Collapse Disorder, a separate ailment marked by the sudden, massive disappearance of bees that occurred in at least 35 states and three continents last year. The study's findings point to a need for commercial beehives of all species to be managed more effectively, said co-author Michael Otterstatter of the University of Toronto.


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