Do bees scare you? Instead of fearing them, you should appreciate their role in our ecosystem. In addition to providing us honey, they are responsible for pollinating much of the food we eat. Unfortunately, wild bees and honey bees (Apis mellifera) are dying. Many honey bees die because of viruses and conservationists worry that these viruses may transfer to wild bees.

We tested 169 wild bees for five common honey bee viruses. We found them in over 80% of the wild bees, yet the viral load (virus concentration in the bee’s body) was low. We infected two wild bee species with high doses of viruses, and they didn’t get sick immediately. This hopeful finding suggests that honey bees and wild bees can co-exist even if some are infected with viruses. To be sure, though, we need to test if other viruses infect the many wild bee species that co-occur with honey bees.

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About this article

Summary of research
Entomologists (scientists who study insects) wanted to find out if domestic honey bee viruses infect wild bees as well.
Reading level
Scientific field
Key words
NGSS standards
AP Environmental science topics
IB Biology topics
Scientific methods
Type of figure
Location of research
Scientist Affiliation
Publication date
February 2017

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