Experts believe that honeybees have been busy spreading diseases to insects that pollinate crops. Apparantly, imported honeybees are an important reservoir for viruses that kill wild pollinators, which could lead to a meltdown in the planet’s pollination services. Our wild pollinators include bumblebees and solitary bees.
Deformed wing virus (DWV) has been found in both honeybees and bumblebees. The virus is spread by a mite and typically kills bees withing 48 hours. The pattern of spread showed that imported honeybees are the major source of infection for the wild pollinators, and that emerging diseases spread by these colonies could be a major cause of mortality in the wild.
There are 250 different species of wild solitary bees in the UK. The solution is to introduce strict hygiene regulations to protect wild pollinators, worth an estimated £500m a year to the Uk economy alone. There are no immediate threats to our crops, but to keep it this way we need to protect our bees and keep populations healthy and diverse.