A “wing-deforming virus” has hit the world's wild honeybee population. The virus, according to researchers, is spread by tiny, microscopic mites.

And it's a big problem. Damage to bee wings has been found to adversely affect bees' ability to thrive and forage, which can lead to a shortened lifespan, researchers have discovered, Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday.

The virus is said to be found in many parts of the world, and about three-quarters of beehives could be affected in certain areas. Following experimentation, scientists at the Laboratory of Socioecology and Social Evolution in Leuven, Belgium, determined that the number of bees in a hive infected with the virus did not diminish in numbers, however, it did lead bees to begin foraging too early. This impact in the bees’ life-rhythm made them less equipped to properly “forage.” The bees were found to die earlier in life as opposed to healthy bees.

“Deformed wing virus strongly reduced the chances for workers to survive to foraging age,” the scientists told AFP. The wing virus was, ultimately, determined to have had “a strongly negative overall effect.” 

The health and endangerment of the world’s bee population has made headlines and sparked debate for years because the dwindling bee population could affect more than just the species. Pollinators like bees determine the health and livelihood of crops and the environment, which in turn directly impact livestock, agricultural and the jobs -- and people -- that depend on these industries. About 40 percent of invertebrate pollinators, such as bees, are at risk of extinction,according to the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the world's bee population has in recent years been struck by Colony Collapse Disorder, which occurs when the majority of the worker bees abandon a hive. The phenomenon more recently has been linked to viruses and pesticides, according to the EPA. 

Scientists recently calculated that around 1.4 billion jobs – not to mention about three-quarters of crops – rely on pollinators such as bees, according to Phys.org. About 20,000 species of bees are also said to fertilize over 90 percent of the world’s major crops (about 107 crops).