Following on from yesterday's story about deformed bumble bees our very own Robert Schneck has come up with an answer. He writes:
Bumble bees often have mites and they are less likely to be responsible for the deformed wings than Deformed wing virus (DWV), a disease that began appearing among bumble bees a few years ago. There is a paper about it in the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology.
J Invertebr Pathol. 2006 Jan;91(1):61-3. Epub 2005 Nov 21.Detection of Deformed wing virus, a honey bee viral pathogen, in bumble bees (Bombus terrestris and Bombus pascuorum) with wing deformities.
Genersch E, Yue C, Fries I, de Miranda JR.Source
Institute for Bee Research, Friedrich-Engels-Str.32, D-16540 Hohen
Neuendorf, Germany. firstname.lastname@example.org
Honey bees (Apis mellifera) productively infected with Deformed wing virus (DWV) through Varroa destructor (V. destructor) during pupal stages develop into adults showing wing and other morphological deformities. Here, we report for the first time the occurrence of bumble bees (Bombus terrestris, Bombus pascuorum) exhibiting wing deformities resembling those seen in clinically DWV-infected honey bees. Using specific RT-PCR protocols for the detection of DWV followed by sequencing of the PCR products we could demonstrate that the bumble bees were indeed infected with DWV. Since such deformed bumble bees are not viable DWV infection may pose a serious threat to bumble bee populations.