The decline of the number of different types of pollinators may be result of disease and susceptibility for infections with various RNA viruses. In recent years there has been growing evidence that certain types of honeybee viruses could be transmitted between different pollinators. In this study, sequencing of positive samples of acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV), black queen cell virus (BQCV), sacbrood bee virus (SBV) and Lake Sinai virus were carried out using molecular methods. Samples were collected and found positive in honeybees (Apis mellifera carnica) and bumlebees (Bombus lapidarius, B. pascuorum, B. terrestis, B. lucorum) in Slovenia. An individual type of bee virus was proven using a specific RT-PCR method. RT-PCR products of individual viruses were directly sequenced by Sanger method. By comparison 408 to 783 nucleotides of long fragments of viral genomes, we found 98,5 to 100% nucleotide identity in bees and bumblebees, which is clear evidence that the same strains of honeybee viruses are infecting both types of pollinators. This study, conducted in Slovenia, for the first time proves that bees and bumblebees are infected with genetically identical strains of ABPV, BQCV, SBV and Lake Sinai virus. For the successful control of viral infections in bees, further studies should also be extended to other types of pollinators.
In the present study, we made an assessment of the understanding of the importance of pollination and the diversity of pollinators in primary school pupils and the general public. The raw data were obtained by a questionnaire completed by pupils of the 9th grade of elementary school and an online questionnaire for the general public. This research is the first survey on understanding the importance of pollination and pollinator diversity in Slovenia. We have found that the awareness of the importance of pollination and the pollinator diversity in the elementary school and the general public was similar. Both target groups were aware of the importance of pollination as well as of the consequences of the disappearance of pollinators. The knowledge about diversity and biology of pollinators was worse.
The diversity of wild bees and their importance for agriculture and nature was presented. Pollinators are the keystone species in most terrestrial ecosystems. 78 % of wildflowers need biotic pollination provided by insects and 84 % of European crops are directly dependent on insect pollination. The estimated value of crop pollination in Europe and Slovenia is around 22 billion EUR and 120 million EUR per year (10 % of the total economic value of agronomical output for human food). Wild pollinators are dominated by wild bees (bumblebees and solitary bees) and hoverflies while butterflies, beetles and other insects provide smaller contributions. The diversity of pollinators improves crop yield or fruit quality and thus restoring and maintaining pollinator diversity is thus very important for agriculture as well as for natural vegetation. In recent years a dramatic decline in wild pollinators has been documented in many European countries. According to the European Red list of bees 9.2 % of wild bee species are considered threatened. Bumblebees are the best studied group and of 69 European bumblebee species, 23.6% are threatened with extinction. Moreover, 45.6% of bumblebee species have declining population trend. The main identified reasons for pollinator decline are habitat loss due to agricultural intensification and urban sprawl (loss of floral resources and nesting sites), pesticides, diseases and climate changes. At present, Slovenia still has a relatively high diversity of wild bees (563 species) but nevertheless, 14% of wild bees are considered threatened with extinction. Geography and related forest coverage prevent development of intensive agriculture on surfaces comparable to those in large parts of Western Europe. Therefore the potential of wild pollinators in Slovenia is still great, but largely ignored. Development of strategy for managing wild pollinators is therefore a short-term imperative.