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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVE NUTRITION FOR HONEY BEE COLONIES TO STIMULATE POPULATION GROWTH, INCREASE QUEEN QUALITY, AND REDUCE THE IMPACT OF VARROA MITES

Location: Honey Bee Research

Title: The Importance of Microbes in Nutrition and Health of Honey Bee Colonies

Authors
item Degrandi-Hoffman, Gloria
item Sammataro, Diana
item Alarcon Jr, Ruben

Submitted to: American Bee Journal
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 30, 2009
Publication Date: June 20, 2009
Citation: Hoffman, G.D., Sammataro, D., Alarcon Jr, R.N. 2009. The Importance of Microbes in Nutrition and Health of Honey Bee Colonies. American Bee Journal 149:583-584.

Interpretive Summary: When we think of bacteria and fungus, we usually imagine disease and spoilage. However, microbes play an essential role in the health of nearly every organism. Honey bee colonies have an array of bacteria and fungi that are essential for the storing and processing of food (especially pollen) and to control pathogens. In the first part of this 3-part series, we will discuss the beneficial microbes in honey bees and their food stores and why they are essential to colony health. While the importance of symbiotic microbes is universally accepted in biology and their presence in honey bee colonies is well documented, this area of research has not been explored extensively in more than 20 years. We hope that this paper will raise the interest of the research community and beekeepers alike to once again consider the importance of symbiotic microbes in honey bee colonies, and how our beekeeping and crop protection practices might be affecting them.

Technical Abstract: Microbes play an essential role in the health of nearly every organism. Humans have innumerable microbes in their digestive system to help with the processing of food. Honey bee colonies also have an array of bacteria and fungi that are essential for the storing and processing of food (especially pollen) and to control pathogens. In the first part of this 3-part series, we will discuss the beneficial microbes in honey bees and their food stores and why they are essential to colony health. We will also discuss factors such as environmental contaminants and antibiotic treatments that might compromise the diversity and growth of microbes (Part-2). In the final part of the series, we will discuss research questions and areas of study that we will be exploring at the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center as part of our nutrition research program.

Last Modified: 4/21/2014
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