'Intensive' beekeeping not to blame for common bee diseases

    'Intensive' beekeeping not to blame for common bee diseases

    artificial beehives in an orchard

    Intensive agriculture -- where animals or plants are kept crowded together in very high densities -- is thought to result in higher rates of disease spreading.

    But researchers from the University of Exeter and the University of California, Berkeley found this is not the case for honeybees.

    Their study modelled the spread of multiple honeybee diseases and found that crowding many colonies together was "unlikely to greatly increase disease prevalence."

    "Crowding of animals or crops -- or people -- into minimal space usually increases rates of disease spread," said Lewis Bartlett, of the University of Exeter and Emory University.

    "Honeybees live in close proximity to each other naturally, and our models show that adding more bees does little to raise disease risk."

    However, the research only applies to existing honeybee diseases -- and the findings suggest intensive beekeeping could accelerate the spread of new diseases.

    Although the paper says intensification of beekeeping does not boost diseases among honeybees, Bartlett points out that intensive agriculture -- especially use of pesticides and destruction of habitats -- harms bee species including honeybees.

    Read more about this study at Science Daily.

    Published on: Aug 01, 2019

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