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Honeybee virus may threaten wild cousins

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
University Park, Pa. (UPI) Dec 24, 2010
Eleven species of wild pollinators in the United States have turned up carrying some of the viruses known to menace domestic honeybees, researchers say.

Scientists at Penn State University say the findings raise the specter of diseases moving between domestic and wild pollinators, dashing hopes that viral diseases afflicting honeybees will stay in honeybees, reported Friday.

In domestic honeybees, viruses rank as one of the possible contributors to the still-mysterious malady known as colony collapse disorder that abruptly wipes out a hive's workforce, Penn State's Diana Cox-Foster says.

Cox-Foster and others are investigating what the viruses might do to wild pollinators, and initial studies are said to be a cause for worry.

"Is this part of the reason why we've seen the decline of native pollinator species in the U.S.?" she says.

Wild bumblebees, for example, are dwindling in numbers, and the new study raises concerns.

"We recognize that those viruses likely pose a major threat to wild bumblebees," says Sarina Jepsen of the Xerces Society, an invertebrate conservation group in Portland, Ore.

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