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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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