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Data from: Industrial bees: the impact of apicultural intensification on local disease prevalence


Bartlett, Lewis et al. (2019), Data from: Industrial bees: the impact of apicultural intensification on local disease prevalence, Dryad, Dataset,


1) Although it is generally thought that the intensification of farming will result in higher disease prevalences there is little specific modelling testing this idea. We test this in honeybees by building multi-colony models to inform how ‘apicultural intensification’ is predicted to impact honeybee pathogen epidemiology at the apiary scale. 2) Counter to the prevailing view, our agent-based and analytical models predict that intensification, captured though increased population sizes, changes in population network structure, and increased between-colony transmission, is likely to have little effect on disease prevalence within an apiary. Principally this is because even low-intensity apiculture exhibits high disease prevalence. 3) The greatest impacts of apicultural intensification are found for diseases with relatively low R0 (basic reproduction number), however, such diseases cause little overall disease prevalence and therefore the impacts of intensification are minor. Furthermore, the smallest impacts of intensification are for diseases with high R0 values, which we argue are typical of important honeybee diseases. 4) Policy Implications: Our findings contradict the hypothesis that apicultural intensification leads to notably higher disease prevalences for established honeybee pathogens with high R0 values. More broadly, our work demonstrates the need for informative models of agricultural systems and management practices in order to understand the implications of management changes on diseases.

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