Parasite threat to native bees – We import between 40,000 and 50,000 bumblebee colonies into the UK to support crop pollination.
Scientists have bought 48 colonies – hives containing up to 100 bees each – from three producers in Europe.
They found 77% had parasites that could infect native bees. Their findings have been published in a study in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
Lead researcher Prof William Hughes, from the University of Sussex, said commercial production and importation of bumblebees had been “going on for decades”.
“We couldn’t grow tomatoes in this country without these bumblebees,” he said.
And with the decline in pollinating insects in recent years and this threat to native bees food producers are increasingly reliant upon imported bees.
“Over a million colonies are imported globally – it’s a huge trade,” said Prof Hughes. “And a surprisingly large number of these are produced in factories, mainly in Eastern Europe.
“We sought to answer the big question. Do imported colonies have parasites and, if so, are those parasites infectious or harmful.”
To help bees in your local area and to counter this parasite threat to native bees – create a Meadowmat Wildflower Meadow.
For more information got to:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23347867