The health crisis in managed honey bees (Apis mellifera). Which factors are involved in this phenomenon?

Abstract

The Western honey bee, Apis mellifera plays a crucial role as a pollinator worldwide. Except the wide number of commercial crops, honey bees pollinate many wild plants, some of which are threatened with extinction and are valuable genetic resource. Although during the last few years honey bee populations are steady and increasing in numbers with some fluctuation, there are a number of threats responsible for honey bee health and survival. As key factors for this are pointing out poor nutrition, sublethal insecticide exposure, and biotic stressors, including diseases and parasites. The decline of honey bee populations negatively affects not only many commercial crop and flowering plants, but also reduces honey bee products such as honey, bee pollen, propolis, bee venom, royal jelly and beeswax etc., many of them with significant role in human health benefits. Many hypotheses have been put forward in an attempt to explain these losses, but so far no indisputable factor has been identified responsible as the main driver of bee decline. Thus, it is necessary to urgently take measures to protect and preserve the honey bee by identifying and neutralizing the most significant causes leading to this phenomenon. Conservation methods are in place to protect A. mellifera and honey bee populations in a large part of the world. However, the survey also reveals the disparity in resources and information dedicated between honey bees and all other pollinators.

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Acknowledgements

This work was funded by the National Scientific Fund of the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science, [grant numbers 06/10 17.12.2016]. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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All authors have equally contributed to the idea of this review. P.H. and B.N. prepared the original draft with considerable contributions from R.S. All authors have substantially contributed to the writing of the final text. Moreover, all authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Peter Hristov.

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Neov, B., Shumkova, R., Palova, N. et al. The health crisis in managed honey bees (Apis mellifera). Which factors are involved in this phenomenon?. Biologia (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11756-021-00684-2

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Keywords

  • Apis mellifera
  • Honey bee population decline
  • Biotic and abiotic stressors