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Global declines of insect pollinators jeopardize the delivery of pollination services in both agricultural and natural ecosystems. The importance of infectious diseases has been documented in honeybees, but there is little information on the extent to which these diseases are shared with other pollinator orders. Here, we establish for the first time the presence of three important bee viruses in hoverfly pollinators (Diptera: Syrphidae): black queen cell virus (BQCV), sacbrood virus (SBV) and deformed wing virus strain B (DWV-B). These viruses were detected in two Eristalis species, which are behavioural and morphological bee mimics and share a foraging niche with honeybees. Nucleotide sequences of viruses isolated from the Eristalis species and Apis mellifera were up to 99 and 100% identical for the two viruses, suggesting that these pathogens are being shared freely between bees and hoverflies. Interestingly, while replicative intermediates (negative strand virus) were not detected in the hoverflies, viral titres of SBV were similar to those found in A. mellifera These results suggest that syrphid pollinators may play an important but previously unexplored role in pollinator disease dynamics.

Original publication




Journal article


Biol Lett

Publication Date





Varroa destructor virus, acute bee paralysis virus, emerging infectious diseases, honeybee, hover fly, slow bee paralysis virus