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Disease Spreads Among Bees As Green Space Becomes Scarce

German Wikipedia
Urban beekeeping is becoming more common as green space becomes scarce.

N.C. State University researchers have found that bees are more susceptible to diseases in areas where there's more pavement and less green space.

Entomologist Dave Tarpy co-authored a report in the journal PLOS ONE. It compared the levels of pathogens in both wild bees and those tended to by bee keepers.

"In both the feral and the managed bee colonies, there tended to be higher levels of diseases with increased urbanization. So they both had higher levels of disease in the inner cities."

Tarpy says bees are important pollinators for food, so it's important to understand what's threatening them.

But there are interventions that can be taken. Tarpy says parasitic mites that reproduce in hives carry the most serious pathogens, but they can be managed with chemicals and traps. But the bees themselves can also be shored up.

"Beekeepers can try and keep their bees healthy by providing food," said Tarpy.

He adds that communities can help, by creating green spaces and growing flowers.

"Provide those natural resources in the environment throughout the year. Not just in the spring, but particularly throughout the heat of the summer into the fall so bee populations have something to eat throughout the year."


Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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