Bee viruses

Most viral diseases are latent in bee colonies and are rarely a problem. However, viral infections can be exacerbated by stressful situations and can then have serious consequences for bees. Since the introduction of Varroa destructor in 1983, a number of viruses have started to play a more prominent role in the health of bee colonies.

At least 23 viruses are known to be associated with the genus Apis (De Miranda et al. 2012; Runckel et al. 2011; Bromenshenk et al. 2010). In general, viruses are latent in honeybee populations and cause little or no damage to bee colonies. However, virus replication may be stimulated or activated (usually in stress situations), resulting in the emergence of disease symptoms. This can cause incidental damage or even colony mortality.

Deformed Wing Virus (DWV)

An exception to this rule is the Deformed Wing Virus (DWV). Due to the introduction of Varroa destructor, this virus has become a serious threat (Martin et al. 2012) and is now a structural problem for the health of honeybees. It is primarily caused by the effective transmission of DWV by Varroa mite; the virus also replicates in Varroa mites. In addition, Varroa mites cause an immune response when they feed on bees. This immune response activates the replication of virus particles in bee tissue. DWV can cause physical symptoms such as deformed wings, which in turns affect bee lifespan.

Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV)

During long, cold periods in the growing season, the Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV) can become a problem. This virus causes paralysis. Bees infected with this virus can be identified by their black colour and their lack of hair.

Other viruses

Viruses are receiving increasing attention because the techniques to detect viruses have improved, providing more insight into the role they play in the health of bees. In relationship to bee mortality, Bees@wur is also conducting research into:

Which viruses are present in Europe?

Virus Distributie EU
Acute Bee Paralysis Virus (ABPV) +
Kashmir Bee Virus (KBV) +
Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) +
Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV) +
Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) +
Varroa destructor Virus 1 (VDV-1) +
Sacbrood Virus (SBV) +
Slow Bee Paralysis Virus (SBPV) +
Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV) +
Cloudy Wing Virus (CWV) +
Bee Virus X (BVX) +
Bee Virus Y (BVY) +
Arkansas Bee Virus (ABV) ?
Berkeley Bee Virus (BBPV) ?
Macula-like Virus (MLV) +
Fliamentous Virus (AmFv) +
Apis Iridescent Virus (AIV) ?
Aphid Lethal Paralysis virus (ALPV) ?
Big Sioux River virus (BSRV) ?
Lake Sinaï Virus 1 (LSV1) ?
Lake Sinaï Virus 2 (LSV2) ?
Invertebrate Iridescence Virus (IIV) ?
Kakugo Virus ?

Background document

Publications of third parties

  • Dainat et al 2012 Dead or alive: deformed Wing Virus and Varroa destructor reduce the life span of winter honey bees. Appl. Environ. Mircobiol.
  • Dainat et al 2012 Clinical signs of Deformed Wing Virus infection are predictive markers for honey bee losses. J. Invert. Path.
  • Martin et al 2012 Global honey bee viral landscape altered by parasitic mite. Science.