Honey bee populations could be wiped out worldwide by the wing virus

The world’s bee population could be endangered by a recently discovered deadly virus, a leading scientist has warned.

Professor Robert Paxton of Martin Luther University Halle Wittenberg (MLU) in the German city of Halle, Lower Saxony, warns that the latest variant of the deformed wing virus has the potential to wipe out bee populations around the world.

Paxton heads the university’s general zoology. Renowned bee and wild bee disease expert warned: “The deformed wing virus is probably the biggest threat to honey bees right now. Our laboratory research has shown that the highly contagious new variant is killing. bees faster “.

A bee sucks nectar from a flower on May 17, 2019 in Berlin, Germany.
Sean Gallu / Getty Images

The variant of the virus, which causes severe damage to insects’ wings before killing them, has been detected by an international group of researchers who have been analyzing variants of the virus for the past 20 years.

The new variant of the virus is spread by varroa mites which are widely considered to be one of the biggest threats to bees in the world. These mites invade hives and reproduce by laying eggs on the pupa.

Paxton warned: “Mites don’t just spread viruses. They also eat bee pupae.”

If not detected and treated early, the mite population can increase to such an extent that the hive succumbs to disease and deformities caused by the mites.

The latest MLU research revealed that the new variant has already replaced its predecessor in Europe and is rapidly spreading to other regions.

MLU scientists looked at 3,000 different datasets to determine which regions are already affected by the new variant.

Paxton explained: “Our analysis confirms that the new variant is already the dominant force in Europe. We fear it is only a matter of time before it makes its way around the world.”

Beehive honeycomb
Honeycomb from a beehive at Martin Luther University Halle located in the German city of Wittenberg.
Uni Halle, Markus Scholz / Zenger

The new variant, called DVW-B, was first detected in Europe and Africa in the early years of this millennium. It began to spread to North and South America in 2010. In the year 2015, DVW-B reached Asia.

Paxton said the new variant has established itself on all continents except Australia. The zoologist explained that the reason may be the varroa mite’s inability to settle there to a larger extent.

The scientist added: “Basic and general hive hygiene measures are critical for beekeepers when it comes to protecting their colonies from the varroa mite.”

He stressed: “Bees are the most important creature for man and the environment”.

Prior to joining the MLU, Paxton held a position as a lecturer and lecturer in Insect Ecology at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, between 2003 and 2010. Prior to that he also did research at scientific institutions in Wales. , Sweden and Mexico.

Honey bees are social flying insects known for their perennial colonial nest building from wax, the large size of their colonies, and the excess production and storage of honey.

Only eight surviving species of honey bees are recognized, for a total of 43 subspecies. However, honey bees represent only a small fraction of the approximately 20,000 known species of bees.

The best known honey bee is the western bee (Apis mellifera), which has been domesticated for honey production and crop pollination. The only other honey bee is the eastern bee (Apis Cerana), which occurs in South Asia.

The varroa mite, excessive use of insecticides, construction projects and monoculture agriculture are considered the main threats to the existence of honey bees.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

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