Bee vs. Bee
Without a doubt bees are important to our environment. If there were no bees, pollination would not take place on the level necessary to keep plants alive. Without plants there would be no oxygen for us to breathe. Without oxygen… You get the idea. Bees are important and we need to do what we can to protect them. New evidence, however, shows that commercial bees bred in captivity carry diseases that could be a risk to native or wild bees. According to a University of Exeter research team, “New measures are needed to stop diseases carried by commercial bees from spilling over into the wild.”
Commercial bees are used to pollinate crops like peppers and oilseed rape. This species of bees, used for pollination or in commercial hives, often suffer from parasite infections and more than 20 viruses. Vanessa Amaral-Rogers of the charity, Buglife, claims that “the results of the study show an urgent need for changes in how the government regulates the importation of bees. Last year a sample of commercial bumble bee hives imported into the UK revealed that 77% of the bees in the hives were contaminated with up to five different parasites.” Three other parasites were found in the pollen brought in with them.
Prof David Goulson of the University of Sussex added, “It’s vitally important that we look after the health of both wild and managed bees. We have to be very careful we don’t spread diseases from one continent to another.”
This research raises questions and concerns over commercial honey beekeepers responsibility to protect “ecologically and economically important wild pollinator communities from disease.” In addition, many of these diseases pass to wild bumble bees, wasps, ants and hoverflies. An article in the Journal of Applied Ecology by Robyn Manley, Mike Boots and Lena Wilfert argues that ‘the commercial use of pollinators is a key driver of disease emergence in these beneficial insects and that this must be addressed by management and policy.’