Several studies have suggested that covert stressors can contribute to bee colony declines. Here we provide a novel case study and show using radiofrequency identification tracking technology that covert deformed wing virus (DWV) infections in adult honeybee workers seriously impact long-term foraging and survival under natural foraging conditions. In particular, our experiments show that adult workers injected with low doses of DWV experienced increased mortality rates, that DWV caused workers to start foraging at a premature age, and that the virus reduced the workers' total activity span as foragers. Altogether, these results demonstrate that covert DWV infections have strongly deleterious effects on honeybee foraging and survival. These results are consistent with previous studies that suggested DWV to be an important contributor to the ongoing bee declines in Europe and the USA. Overall, our study underlines the strong impact that covert pathogen infections can have on individual and group-level performance in bees.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3670216.
- Received October 17, 2016.
- Accepted January 6, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.