Reported in the March edition of Smallholder magazine, the following article highlights further the responsibilities of beekeepers regarding the effects of our activities.
“A recent study from the University of Exeter has reported that viruses carried by commercial bees can jump to wild pollinator populations with potentially devastating results.
The researchers are calling for new measures to be introduced to prevent the introduction of diseased pollinators into natural environments.
We all know the effects on pollinators in recent years of habitat destruction, pesticide use, and disease all playing an increasing role in their decline.
While the survey covers the south of England i think we all know that bees move and are moved about the country to suit the needs of beekeepers, as well as by natural migrations.
Dr Lena Wilbert from The Centre for Ecology and Conservation in Biosciences at the University of Exeter is quoted as saying “Our study highlights the importance of preventing the release of diseased commercial pollinators into the wild. The diseases carried by commercial species affect a wide range of wild pollinators but their spread can be avoided by improved monitoring and management practices.
Commercial honey bee keepers have a responsibility to protect ecologically and environmentally important will pollinator communities from disease”.
Researchers reviewed existing studies to determine the potential for disease emergence within wild pollinator communities based on known honeybee viruses. The main culprit of disease-related losses was the Varrora mite. This parasite help;ps spread viral diseased may increase their virulence. One of these diseases – Deformed Wing Virus – has recently been identified as an emerging disease in pollinators and its prevalence in commercial honeybees has been linked to its existence in wild bumblebees.
The social behaviour of honeybees, bumblebees, and social wasps provides perfect conditions for transmission both within the colony and between different species.
The definition of “commercial honeybee keeper”, commercial pollinator is very wide, and in this context includes anyone who produces honey which may be sold on in any volume, but we as beekeepers must count ourselves even if we don’t sell or give away our honey – we are managing bee stocks and need to be scrupulous in our practices to eradicate the sources of disease and infestation rather than rely on others to do so while we carry on.
Please spread the word and lets include the beekeepers out there who don’t belong to an association, or are of the belief that they can go it alone and let nature deal with their colonies of bees. While humans are involved with bees, we are responsible for their health and that of associated fauna.
To do nothing is not an option.