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BeeProbio: sustaining honeybee health with probiotics

Derome N, Pernal SF, Giovenazzo P (2017) BeeProbio: sustaining honeybee health with probiotics. American Bee Research Conference, 12-13 Jan 2017, Galveston, TX. Bee World 93(4): 108.


Maintaining health status of honeybee colonies is a major concern for beekeepers. Various parasites and pathogens are responsible for unsustainable declines of honeybee populations over the past decade. Homologated treatments against disease and pests rely on chemicals and antibiotics that can be harmful for honeybees. For example, antibiotics allow resistant opportunistic pathogens to trigger secondary infections as their natural antagonistic gut bacteria are killed or weakened. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop new tools to treat and prevent honeybee diseases that are efficient, sustainable and safe for honeybee micro flora. The nutritional probiotic approach is straightforward and it has proved its efficiency in improving health for various farm animals. Our research team is currently developing bee specific probiotic strains that improve significantly colony survival, performance and disease resistance. Furthermore, we are developing metagenomic tools to monitor gut microbiota homeostasis. Such tools will enable beekeepers to rapidly and cost-effectively monitor health status of their colonies in order (1) to identify colonies healthy colonies and (2) to target those that need personalized probiotic treatments to restore gut microbiota homeostasis, and thus disease resistance. We have tested survival of caged bees (20 cages per experimental group, 20 bees per cage) with various probiotic candidates/supplements in 1:1 sucrose syrup. Our current results demonstrate that four probiotic candidates improve honeybee survival in caged bee trials, both in prophylactic and curative contexts with experimental infections of the microsporidian parasite Nosema ceranae.

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