The researchers from the US Department of Agriculture published an article referring to the impact of parasites on bee health.
In general, there are at least eight types of bacteria inside the gut of a bee.
As the young bees don’t have gut bacteria, the three authors of the study tested the impact of the common bacterium and parasites on the honey bee population.
The scientists expected that the increase in the gut bacterium could help the bees resist parasites. However, this was not the case. The introduction of bacteria made the bees be more prone to diseases.
The researchers discovered that if the young bees had been colonized by gut bacterium or parasites, their microbiome would change later in life, becoming quite different from regular bees.
The experiment proved the bees that were treated with a combination of parasites had an increased activity of the detoxification gene when exposed to a low-protein diet. The genes are especially important when the pollinators have to foreign breakdown molecules or insecticides.
Therefore, the bacteria combined with a stressing environment can make bees become more vulnerable towards diseases.
Another observation was that the bees that were exposed to parasite infestations tended to spend more time inside the hive, which increased the chance to transmit the illness to other workers in the colony.
The result will be that less and fewer bees would be able to gather food, and the stressed colony becomes more prone to diseases.
The authors of the study recommend beekeepers to be careful to whatever may enter their hive, be it an antibiotic, a probiotic or a parasite.
The researchers agree that more work is needed to be done in order to understand the impact of gut microbes on bee health.
The pollinators are crucial to our environmental health, to the nation’s economy and food security. The total estimated value added by bees to agricultural crops reaches $15 billion.
The US has placed a National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, which includes the collaboration between federal agencies and the creation of scientific research aimed at finding solutions for honey bee losses.
Another interest of the authorities is to find new ways of how to increase the pollinator habitat and to raise awareness.
In the last six years, the Agricultural Research Service had spent more than $82 million in research, which resulted in almost 200 journal articles on pollinators.
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