Honeybees risk being wiped out by a disease that is sweeping Britain, scientists reveal

·2 min read
Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus has spread across most of England and Wales  -  REUTERS
Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus has spread across most of England and Wales - REUTERS

Honeybees are at risk of being wiped out by a disease that is sweeping Britain, new research has found.

Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV) causes trembling of wings and body and jumpiness which prevents flight, and also leads to loss of hair and rejection by healthy peers. It can contribute to the death of a whole colony and kills victims within a week.

The disease, fueled by the introduction of queen bees from across Europe, was primarily only recorded in Lincolnshire. By 2017, it was present in 39 of 47 English and six of eight Welsh counties.

Lead author Professor Giles Budge, of Newcastle University, said: "Our analysis clearly confirms it has been emerging across England and Wales since 2007."

He added: "Apiaries owned by professional beekeepers are at greater risk of the disease."

The study, published in Nature Communications also found clusters of the outbreak, where cases are found close together, were becoming more frequent.

Scientists collected date from visits to more than 24,000 beekeepers shows it is rising "exponentially".

This study, biggest analysis of its kind also found a link between the disease and the importation of honey bee queens.

They head colonies and beekeepers use large numbers from France, Italy, the Netherlands and other countries across the world to replenish stocks. Since 2000, over 40,000 queens have been imported into England and Wales 

 The study used nformation from 130,000 bee imports from 25 countries show for the first time the disease was nearly twice as likely in apiaries owned by keepers who used imported queens.

The study was completed in association with the Bee Farmers' Association, who represent professional beekeepers in the UKChairman Rob Nickless said: "We are pleased to be part of this project and welcome these early results.

"This is the sort of research that brings practical benefits to the industry - helping bee farmers at grassroots level to improve honey bee health and increase UK honey production."

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