Do Viruses from Managed Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) Endanger Wild Bees in Native Prairies?

Zoe A. Pritchard, Harmen P. Hendriksma, Ashley L. St Clair, David S. Stein, Adam G. Dolezal, Matthew E. O'Neal, Amy L. Toth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Populations of wild and managed pollinators are declining in North America, and causes include increases in disease pressure and decreases in flowering resources. Tallgrass prairies can provide floral resources for managed honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae, Apis mellifera Linnaeus) and wild bees. Honey bees kept near prairies may compete with wild bees for floral resources, and potentially transfer viral pathogens to wild bees. Measurements of these potential interactions are lacking, especially in the context of native habitat conservation. To address this, we assessed abundance and richness of wild bees in prairies with and without honey bee hives present, and the potential spillover of several honey bee viruses to bumble bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae, Bombus Latrielle). We found no indication that the presence of honey bee hives over 2 yr had a negative effect on population size of wild bee taxa, though a potential longer-term effect remains unknown. All levels of viruses quantified in bumble bees were lower than those observed in honey bees. Higher levels of deformed wing virus and Israeli acute paralysis virus were found in Bombus griseocollis DeGeer (Hymenoptera: Apidae) collected at sites with hives than those without hives. These data suggest that the presence of honey bees in tallgrass prairie could increase wild bee exposure to viruses. Additional studies on cross-species transmission of viruses are needed to inform decisions regarding the cohabitation of managed bees within habitat utilized by wild bees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-466
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental entomology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


  • Bombus
  • Israeli acute paralysis virus
  • deformed wing virus
  • pathogen spillover
  • tallgrass prairie

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Do Viruses from Managed Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) Endanger Wild Bees in Native Prairies?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this