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Honeybee visitation to shared flowers increases Vairimorpha ceranae prevalence in bumblebees
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  • Maryellen Zbrozek,
  • Michelle Fearon,
  • Chloe Weise,
  • Elizabeth Tibbetts
Maryellen Zbrozek
University of Michigan
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Michelle Fearon
University of Michigan
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Chloe Weise
University of Michigan
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Elizabeth Tibbetts
University of Michigan

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Vairimorpha (=Nosema) ceranae is a widespread pollinator parasite that commonly infects honeybees and wild pollinators, including bumblebees. Honeybees are highly competent V. ceranae hosts and previous work in experimental flight cages suggests V. ceranae can be transmitted during visitation to shared flowers. However, the relationship between floral visitation in the natural environment and the prevalence of V. ceranae among multiple bee species has not been explored. Here, we analyzed the number and duration of pollinator visits to particular components of squash flowers—including the petals, stamen, and nectary—at six farms in southeastern Michigan, USA. We also determined the prevalence of V. ceranae in honeybees and bumblebees at each site. Our results showed that more honeybee flower contacts and longer duration of contacts with pollen and nectar was linked with greater V. ceranae prevalence in bumblebees. Honeybee visitation patterns appear to have a disproportionately large impact on V. ceranae prevalence in bumblebees even though honeybees are not the most frequent flower visitors. Floral visitation by other pollinators was not linked with V. ceranae prevalence in bumblebees. Further, V. ceranae prevalence in honeybees was unaffected by floral visitation behaviors by any pollinator species. These results suggest that honeybee visitation behaviors on shared floral resources may be an important contributor to increased V. ceranae spillover to bumblebees in the field. Understanding how V. ceranae infection risk is influenced by pollinator behavior in the shared floral landscape is critical for reducing parasite spillover into declining native bee populations.
06 Jun 2023Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
07 Jun 2023Submission Checks Completed
07 Jun 2023Assigned to Editor
08 Jun 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
09 Jul 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
19 Jul 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
11 Aug 20231st Revision Received
17 Aug 2023Submission Checks Completed
17 Aug 2023Assigned to Editor
17 Aug 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
31 Aug 2023Editorial Decision: Accept