Wing-Deforming Virus Threatens To Kill Off Bees

By Donna Bellevue , Feb 02, 2017 02:17 AM EST

After pesticides, a new threat to honey bees have emerged in the form of the wing-deforming virus. Bee populations around the world have been in rapid decline since the 1990s, and now they are in danger of being wiped off the face of the planet by the virus. The virus have been confirmed by scientists to have a shortening effect on the bee's lifespan, seriously altering the total bee population.

Scientists have studied exactly how the virus is spread and how it affects the bee's life. Experiments show that it is spread by microscopic mites, and disrupts bees' foraging, shortening their lives. Scientists reported in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B that virus have 'reduced the life expectancy and total activity span' of infected bees."

According to the International Business Times, the pathogen of the wing-deforming virus can be found in most parts of the world. In some regions, up to three-quarters of hives are affected. Around the world, especially in Europe and North America, bees have been decimated by a mysterious blight called 'colony collapse disorder'.

Colony collapse disorder is when entire populations disappear or die out. The phenomenon has been linked to viruses and pesticides. Research have also accused fungi, parasites, malnutrition because of fewer flowers, or combination of the above, as causes of the alarming problem, the Daily Mail reports.

Not only the survival of the bees is at stake. Scientists have estimated that 1.4 billion jobs, and three-quarters of crops, depend on bees. In sum, there are around 20,000 bee species that fertilize more than 90 percent of the world's 107 major crops. More alarmingly, the United Nations calculated that 40 per cent of natural pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, are at risk of being endangered, with the wing-deforming virus contributing to their possible demise.

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