In week six of the latest Of Schemes and Memes blog series, which features weekly interviews with the art team at Nature, Art Director Kelly Krause explains the decisions behind this week’s striking front cover image focusing on emerging honeybee diseases.
A bumblebee and honeybee collect sunflower nectar. Efficient pollination is vital for both crop production and ecosystem sustainability, and there is evidence to suggest that emerging infectious diseases are contributing to a decline in populations of some important insect pollinators. This study combines laboratory infection experiments and field studies to demonstrate infectivity of two serious honeybee (Apis mellifera) pathogens in a wild pollinator, the bumblebee (Bombus terrestris).
Data from across the United Kingdom show that there is co-localization of deformed wing virus (DWV) and the microsporidian parasite Nosema ceranae in the two types of pollinator, and that the honeybee disease can be infectious in bumblebees. This work indicates that wild pollinator populations may be at risk, and unlike managed populations of Apis, they are not protected by intervention from beekeepers. Such a loss of wild pollinators would significantly decrease crop pollination efficiency. Cover Paul Maguire/Alamy.
From the Art Desk:
Art Director, Kelly Krause, explains:
“We received some gorgeous bee photos from Matthias Fürst, one of the authors of the paper, and considered using one in particular: a striking photo of a dead bumblebee. But in the end we decided against it, as it perhaps made their plight seem just a shade too dire. Instead, we decided to search for an image of a honeybee and bumblebee on the same flower—a tougher job than it seems!
“But our amazing picture team found this shot, with both Apis mellifera and Bombus terrestris clearly present and in focus, on a healthy, good-looking flower. A perfect match for our cover photo, but a possibly deadly encounter for the bumblebee.”
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