Deformed wing virus variant shift from 2010 to 2016 in managed and feral UK honey bee colonies.
Deformed wing virus (DWV) has been linked to the global decline of honey bees. DWV exists as three master variants (DWV-A, DWV-B, and DWV-C), each with differing outcomes for the honey bee host. Research in the USA showed a shift from DWV-A to DWV-B between 2010 to 2016 in honey bee colonies. Likewise, in the UK, a small study in 2007 found only DWV-A, whereas in 2016, DWV-B was the most prevalent variant. This suggests a shift from DWV-A to DWV-B might have occurred in the UK between 2007 and 2016. To investigate this further, data from samples collected in 2009/10 (n = 46) were compared to existing data from 2016 (n = 42). These samples also allowed a comparison of DWV variants between Varroa-untreated (feral) and Varroa-treated (managed) colonies. The results revealed that, in the UK, DWV-A was far more prevalent in 2009/10 (87%) than in 2016 (43%). In contrast, DWV-B was less prevalent in 2009/10 (76%) than in 2016 (93%). Regardless if colonies had been treated for Varroa (managed) or not (feral), the same trend from DWV-A to DWV-B occurred. Overall, the results reveal a decrease in DWV-A and an increase in DWV-B in UK colonies.