News release from Lund University in Sweden:
A Lund University research team has made an astounding discovery – bees have a battery of healthy bacteria in their honey stomach that protects them. Giving these lactic acid bacteria back to bees boosts their natural immune system, helping them fight off disease.
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CCD, or Colony Collapse Disorder, is a mysterious mass death of honey bees that has wiped out 10 million beehives worldwide in the past six years. Around two-thirds of the global food supply depends on bee-pollinated crops. It is believed a combination of pesticides, parasites, poor nutrition, and the stress of large-scale pollination is weakening bees’ immune systems, making them susceptible to disease.
The Lund University-developed product, SymBeeotic, is a natural supplement containing lactic acid bacteria, and is given to bees as nutrition, ideally before and after their winter hibernation.
“This is the only existing product that boosts bees’ natural immune system so they can fight multifactorial diseases”, says Dr Tobias Olofsson, who developed the product together with Dr Alejandra Vasquez.
It is currently common practice for example in the US to give bees antibiotics against bacterial diseases, in an attempt to prevent the disastrous decline of bees around the world. As resistance to antibiotics increases, the need to find alternatives is urgent. Lactic acid bacteria from bees could be one, and the research team has tested how the lactic acid bacteria in SymBeeotic influence the entire colony by producing bioactive substances that function as defence against bee pathogens.
SymBeeotic is a product of years of research, a journey that began for Tobias when he was a child. His grandfather was a beekeeper for 81 years, before he passed away at almost 99 years old earlier this year, actively keeping bees until he was 98.