Probiotics Might Save Bees From A Fatal Disease

Bees are essential organisms for life on Earth. Without bees, life as we know it would gradually collapse since most plants would stop to exist. Now, honey bees colonies are facing a terrible threat in the form of a fatal disease. Scientists think that probiotics might save the bees.

Probiotics are those well-known microorganisms that improve gut health in humans. They are bacteria colonies with beneficial effects on the health, different from those harmful ones that can make us ill when they multiply.

“Probiotics aren’t just for humans. Our idea was that if you could use beneficial microbes to stimulate the immune response or attack the pathogens that are infecting the hives, then maybe we can help save the bees,” explained Gregor Reid from Western’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry and Endowed Chair in Human Microbiome and Probiotics at Lawson.

Probiotics Might Save Bees From A Fatal Disease

The honey bees are crucial for pollinating crops. Without them, crops would die. Without crops, a significant part of our food production would collapse, leading to famine. That’s the perfect example of a global ecosystem in which every species is interconnected with the others.

Accordingly, we cannot ignore a fatal disease that affects bees. Fortunately, scientists believe that they have the solution – probiotics. A team of researchers from Western University and Lawson Health Research Institute created a combination of bee food and probiotics to treat bees infected with American Foulbrood, a disease caused by P. larvae bacteria.

The scientists gave probiotics to the bees and noticed that the microorganisms cured the colonies. “The results from our study demonstrated that probiotic supplementation could increase the expression of a gene called Defensin-1—a key antimicrobial peptide shown to play a pivotal role in honey bee defense against P. larvae infection,” said Brendan Daisley, the study’s leading author.