Managed honey bees as a radar for wild bee decline?

Wood, T. J.; Michez, D.; Paxton, R. J.; Drossart, M.; Neumann, P.; Gérard, M.; Vanderplanck, M.; Barraud, A.; Martinet, B.; Leclercq, N.; Vereecken, N. J. (2020). Managed honey bees as a radar for wild bee decline? Apidologie, 51(6), pp. 1100-1116. Springer 10.1007/s13592-020-00788-9

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Wild and managed bees are essential for global food security and the maintenance of biodiversity. At present, the conservation of wild bees is hampered by a huge shortfall in knowledge about the trends and status of individual species mainly due to their large diversity and variation in life histories. In contrast, the managed Western honey bee Apis mellifera is one of the best studied and monitored insects in existence. Since similar drivers may be relevant for the decline of wild bees and losses of managed honey bees, this raises the possibility that monitoring of honey bees may help to detect threatened regions for wild bees, thereby fostering urgently required conservation measures. However, this possible relationship has not yet been explicitly tested for. Moreover, research currently focused on honey bees as a model species may yield important insights into wild insect susceptibility to stressors and vice versa. Here we use the bees of Europe as a model to show that managed honey bees are not suitable surrogates for detecting declines in wild bees. A direct comparison of the response of wild bees and honey bees to the same threats (nutritional deficiencies, parasites and pathogens, pesticides, and a changing climate) shows that, whilst some of their responses may be similar at the individual level, when considered at the reproductive level (individuals versus colonies), many of their responses diverge. These results reinforce the need for basic research into wild bee biology, the need for national monitoring schemes for wild bee populations, and the call for conservation actions tailored to the individual ecologies of wild bee species.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH)
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Institute of Bee Health

UniBE Contributor:

Neumann, Peter


500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture








Anna Papach

Date Deposited:

24 Mar 2021 11:37

Last Modified:

24 Mar 2021 11:45

Publisher DOI:





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