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    The trade of bumble bees started in the early nineties for pollinator-dependent greenhouse plants. Nowadays, its rearing and transport have received public attention, since managed bees can transfer pathogens to wild bee populations. Therefore, guaranteeing pathogen-free bumble bees is fundamental. The major protein source used in rearing facilities is honey bee-collected pollen. This can carry pathogens, however to date, solid data on the risk of this food source to the health of bumble bees is lacking. Here we performed a large pathogen screening of non-irradiated honey bee-collected pollen to discover particles infective to Bombus terrestris. We identified seven parasites (Apicystis bombi, Ascosphaera apis, Crithidia mellificae, Nosema ceranae, Paenibacillus larvae and two parasites resembling Nosema thomsoni and Microsporidium sp. Oise) and four viruses (CBPV, DWV, IAPV and SBV) in 17 pollen batches from two major European pollen source regions (Spain and Romania). Ascosphaera apis was capable of infecting bumble bees; the larvae showed similar symptoms to chalkbrood disease reported in honey bees. Bumble bee breeding facilities need to be cautious about the potential presence of this disease, which was originally reported in honey bees. Thorough diagnostic and control methods are needed, as risk of spillover to wild bee species is possible.


    Kleber de Sousa Pereira, Ivan Meeus, Guy Smagghe. Honey bee-collected pollen is a potential source of Ascosphaera apis infection in managed bumble bees. Scientific reports. 2019 Mar 12;9(1):4241

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    PMID: 30862950

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