Honeybee populations worldwide are drastically declining with many hives experiencing Colony Collapse Disorder where 30–90% of hives are lost. Beekeepers and scientists are battling to understand why the bees are dying off.
The TRS (Tobacco Ringspot) Virus is a real threat to bee populations. Evolving for 1.6 billion years, the Tobacco Ringspot Virus has made a leap from plant hosts to honeybees. The virus has been known to infect 35 different families of plants including cucumbers, tomatoes and beans.
A bee becomes infected by collecting pollen from an infected plant and the virus promptly replicates in the bees wings, blood, nerves and antennae.
It is no easy task for a virus to hop from one host to another. Plants and bees are a billion evolutionary years apart and the Tobacco Ringspot Virus is the first reported virus to spread from plants to honeybees.
The consequences of a vast decline in honeybee populations could eventually be disastrous for humankind.
“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”
― Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life of the Bee