Buzz on insects spreading viruses

FOCUS: European honey bee.
FOCUS: European honey bee.

BEES are known as farmers' friends, but could they also be foes? Northern Territory researcher Mary Finlay-Doney has been conducting experiments for the past three years to see if European honey bees can spread cucumber green mottle mosaic virus. CGMMV was detected in watermelon crops at Katherine in the Northern Territory in 2014. The virus is known for being transmitted through movement of machinery. The experiments indicated the virus was viable inside bee hives, but Ms Finlay-Doney stressed more research was needed.

In Australia hives are shifted from paddock to paddock, and farm to farm during pollination. "In the Northern Territory we have hives that move from Darwin to Katherine, which is 300km, then we have hives that move from Katherine to Alice Springs, which is a distance of some thousand kilometres,” she said.

Topics:  honey bees northern territory pollination

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