One of the most common inquiries I receive asks if there is any relationship between colony collapse disorder in bees and white-nose syndrome in bats. I asked microbiologist David Blehert with the USGS National Wildlife Health Center to explain the similarities and differences between the two wildlife diseases:
People have frequently asked whether there is a connection between colony collapse disorder (CCD) in domestic honey bees and white-nose syndrome (WNS) in wild bats. Despite perceived similarities, the bee and bat diseases are quite different. Colony collapse disorder affects a single species, the European honey bee, a non-native domesticated bee species in North America that is maintained in artificial hives by bee keepers. In contrast, WNS affects many species of wild bats that are native to North America. The causative agents for each disease are also different. Current research suggests that CCD is caused by the combined effects of a virus and a fungus (see Iridovirus and Microsporidian linked to honey bee colony decline). In contrast, scientific evidence indicates that a fungus alone causes WNS, the bat disease. The WNS-fungus is a cold-loving species that is distinct from the fungus associated with bee CCD, and it only infects bats while they are hibernating. There is no evidence to suggest viral involvement in WNS.
For a recent overview of WNS, David suggests reading Wing pathology associated with white-nose syndrome in bats suggests life-threatening disruption of physiology.