Results from my newly published work, The Trojan hives highlights imported dangers to native pollinators. Over a million commercially produced bumblebee colonies are imported annually on a
global scale for the pollination of greenhouse crops. After importation, they interact with
other pollinators, with an associated risk of any parasites they carry infecting and harming
Following 2 years of monitoring, my research has shown how the majority of commercial bumblebee hives we purchased in 2011 & 2012 contained harmful parasites.
We found microbial parasites in 77% of the commercially produced bumblebee colonies we purchased from three producers, which were imported on the basis of being free of parasites. Following this, we found that a number of these parasites were infective and detrimental to both bumblebees and honey bees.
The results demonstrate that commercially produced bumblebee colonies carry multiple, infectious parasites that pose a significant risk to other native and managed pollinators. More effective disease detection and management strategies are urgently needed to reduce the pathogen spillover threat from commercially produced bumblebees.