Viewpoint: Activists fret about neonics, but viruses are the real threat to bees

beevirus
Image Credit: University of Florida

While environmentalists raise millions of dollars insisting they will get targeted pesticides (e.g. neonicotinoids) banned to save bees that aren’t really in peril, science is looking at things which do actually put bees at risk.

At the top of the list is not pesticides, it’s nature. An international team has discovered evidence of 27 previously unknown viruses in bees, which could help scientists design strategies to prevent the spread of viral pathogens among these important pollinators.

To investigate viruses in bees, a team collected samples of DNA and RNA, which is responsible for the synthesis of proteins, from 12 bee species in nine countries across the world. Next, they used high-throughput sequencing that efficiently detected both previously identified and 27 never-seen-before viruses belonging to at least six new families in a single experiment. Some of the viruses exist in multiple bee species — such as in honey bees and in bumble bees — suggesting that these viruses may freely circulate within different bee populations.

Related article:  Neonicotinoid insecticide may increase honeybee survival when manure bacteria is present, lab study finds

Read full, original article: Bees: It’s The Viruses That Are The Problem

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