Prevalence and Cross Infection of Eukaryotic and RNA Pathogens of Honey Bees, Bumble Bees, and Mason Bees



Lambrecht, David H

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Pollinators worldwide are in decline, and honey bees (Apis mellifera), bumble bees (Bombus spp.), and mason bees (Osmia spp.) are no exception. Research implicates pollinator pathogens as one of the main reasons for decline, and studies suggest shared floral resources and spillover from commercially managed bees as mechanisms for the spread of infection. The goal of my research was to document the prevalence of viral infection and potential for cross-infection of bee pathogens in local populations of honey bees, bumble bees, and mason bees in the Northern Virginia and Northern Shenandoah area. I sought to observe the presence or absence of two groups of eukaryotic pathogens (Nosema spp. and Trypanosomatids) and the levels of infection of three RNA viruses (acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV), black queen cell virus (BQCV), and deformed wing virus (DWV). Overall, 166 bees were sampled for DNA analysis. Sixty three percent of bees collected for DNA analysis were infected with at least one pathogen. Nosema spp. were found in 12.7% and trypanosomatids in 60.2% of samples. Mason bees are poorly studied compared to Apis and Bombus; this research is the first instance of recorded Crithidia bombi infections in mason bees. I sampled 136 bees for RNA analysis. Results indicated that 84.9% of bees collected for RNA analysis were infected with at least one virus, 39.7% of bees were infected with two viruses, and 19.9% were infected with all three viruses tested. BQCV was the most prevalent of the three viruses with 75% of bees infected. In my study, high levels of prevalence were found in all samples. Infection was widespread across all sites tested, and a higher percentage of bees were infected with at least two viruses than bees infected with just one virus. This is one of the first studies to example the prevalence and incidence of multiple eukaryotic and RNA pathogens in Northern Virginia and the northern Shenandoah region.



Honey, Bee, Bumble, Mason, Pathogen, Nosema