A study published in the journal Nature last month reveals that wild bumble bees, and not only domesticated honey bees as so often reported lately, are getting sick. And it's the honey bees that are probably making them sick. Wild bee populations are declining and this study may help explain why. The scientists think that the managed honey bees may be leaving their pathogens on the flowers. They theorize that the unsuspecting wild bee then lands on the flower and thus contracts the pathogen to itself. This could be tragic news for the wild bumble bee as wild bees live in smaller populations and are therefore more susceptible to infectious disease than their domesticated counterparts.
What's the difference between a bumble bee and a honey bee?
Bumble bees can be twice as big as honey bees. They can sting multiple times (a honey bee only stings once and then dies) and they don't make more honey than they need to survive.
Above: Wild Bumble Bee
Below: Domesticated Honey Bee
So why do we need bumble bees when we have domesticated honey bees?
Wild bumble bees are better pollinators and they visit more plants, offering better cross-pollination. These wild pollinators contribute greatly to crop pollination.
Infectious disease of both honey bees and wild bees poses a serious threat to our food population. Check out Share the Buzz from Whole Foods to see how you can help save the bees.