There are commercially reared bumble bees for sale
not only available to farmers and growers, but also for gardeners. These days,
in the UK for example, one can sometimes see boxes of bumblebees for sale in advertisements
in gardening magazines and you can buy bumble bees from on-line stores.
If you are thinking of purchasing a box of bumble bees for your garden, please read this first.
Research has shown commercially reared bumble bees may be contaminated with contagious viruses and diseases
In a study: The Trojan hives: pollinator pathogens, imported and distributed in bumble bee
colonies by Peter Graystock et al, (publ. Jul 2013, Journal of Applied Ecology)(1); scientists found that bumble bees reared for commercial sale in many cases, were carrying pathogens.
This begs the question:
National and supranational regulations are supposed to
prevent this, and commercially produced bumblebee colonies are accordingly,
now often sold and imported as being parasite-free, but it's looking like the system is not working.
Further comment on the study by the University of Leeds states:
bought 48 colonies of buff-tailed bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) from three
European producers. Some colonies were a subspecies native to the UK and others
were non-native. All were meant to be disease-free, but when they were tested
using DNA technology, 77% of the colonies were found to be carrying parasites.
Parasites were also found in the pollen food supplied with the bees.........
.....The results suggest current regulations and protocols governing bumblebee imports are not effective. Currently, Natural England licences are only required for the non-native subspecies. Although the licences require colonies to be disease free, colonies arriving in the UK are not screened to ensure compliance and the regulations do not apply to imports of the native subspecies."(2)
To an extent, the findings of this study are perhaps no surprise, given the results of a study back in 2010, carried out by the Department of Entomology, The Pennsylvania State, USA.....
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