Bees dying of disease eerily similar to coronavirus, British scientists say

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The latest buzz in the science world: Honeybees are dying of something that is freakishly similar to the coronavirus.

Bee populations around the globe have been decimated by a viral disease that creeps into hives via asymptomatic insects and spreads like wildfire, British researchers discovered. Their research even suggests the insects could benefit from social distancing. 

The scientists found piles of bee carcasses outside hives infected with chronic bee paralysis virus, which causes severe trembling, flightlessness and death within a week, the Guardian reported. 

The infection was once a rarity but has spread rapidly, according to the researchers at Newcastle University, who examined bees in 25 countries. 

In Britain, for example, chronic bee paralysis virus took only a decade to invade 39 of 47 English counties and six of eight Welsh counties. In the US, the infection rate jumped from 0.7% in 2010 to 16% in 2014.

The findings, published in Nature Communications, suggests that the disease is twice as likely to infect commercially harvested bees — and that colonies not confined to the close quarters might fare better. 

“You can’t do social distancing in a hive as easily, but you can manage it by increasing the space in there,” Professor Giles Budge told the website.

Filed under 5/2/20