24 January, 2023

An evidence-based rationale for a North American commercial bumble bee clean stock certification program

By James Strange et al.

A Bombus flavifrons worker visiting flowers of Mertensia ciliata
near the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Colorado. 
Photo by David W. Inouye

Bumble bee colonies are produced by companies to provide pollination services to agricultural field and greenhouse crops worldwide. Globally, at least seven species have been developed for commercial pollination in the last 40 years. Colonies of these species are frequently shipped from production facilities to areas throughout and beyond their native ranges and this movement of colonies presents a mechanism for the spread of pathogens and parasites to wild pollinators. Due to concern for the health of wild pollinators, many of which recently have been demonstrated to be declining in nature, we recommend development of a clean stock program to reduce the risk of pest and pathogen spread from commercial bumble bee production facilities to wild pollinators and other insects. We provide recommendations for best management practices for rearing commercial bumble bees, including management of related products such as wax, pollen, and nesting material. Specific recommendations include disease monitoring, treatment and quarantine standards, standard record keeping, and colony shipping records for facilities that produce and sell bumble bees. The components of our suggested clean stock program could ensure healthy colonies are available to support agricultural needs, while simultaneously protecting wild and managed bee populations.

Read the scientific publication in JPE

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