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Data from: Pathogen shifts in a honey bee predator following arrival of the Varroa mite

Cite this dataset

Loope, Kevin J.; Baty, James W.; Lester, Phil J.; Wilson Rankin, Erin E. (2018). Data from: Pathogen shifts in a honey bee predator following arrival of the Varroa mite [Dataset]. Dryad.


Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are a global threat to honey bees, and spillover from managed bees threaten wider insect populations. Deformed wing virus (DWV), a widespread virus that has become emergent in conjunction with the spread of the mite Varroa destructor, is thought to be partly responsible for global colony losses. The arrival of Varroa in honey bee populations causes a dramatic loss of viral genotypic diversity, favoring a few virulent strains. Here, we investigate DWV spillover in an invasive Hawaiian population of the wasp, Vespula pensylvanica, a honey bee predator and honey-raider. We show that Vespula underwent a parallel loss in DWV variant diversity upon the arrival of Varroa, despite the mite being a honey bee specialist. The observed shift in Vespula DWV, and the variant-sharing between Vespula and Apis, suggest that these wasps can acquire DWV directly or indirectly from honey bees. Apis prey items collected from Vespula foragers were positive for DWV, indicating predation is a possible route of transmission. We also sought cascading effects of DWV shifts in a broader Vespula pathogen community. We identified concurrent changes in a suite of additional pathogens, as well as shifts in the associations between these pathogens in Vespula and in Apis. These findings reveal how hidden effects of the Varroa mite can, via spillover, transform the composition of pathogens in interacting species, with potential knock-on effects for entire pathogen communities.

Usage notes


National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1557163


Hawaii Volcanoes National Park