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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Managing Diseases and Pests of Honey Bees to Improve Queen and Colony Health

Location: Bee Research

Title: Socialized Medicine: Individual and communal disease barriers in honey bees

Authors
item Evans, Jay
item Spivak, Marla -

Submitted to: Journal of Invertebrate Pathology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 2009
Publication Date: October 15, 2009
Citation: Evans, J.D., Spivak, M. 2009. Socialized Medicine: Individual and communal disease barriers in honey bees. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 103:562-572.

Technical Abstract: Honey bees are attacked by numerous parasites and pathogens toward which they present defenses. In this review, we will briefly introduce the many pathogens and parasites afflicting honey bees, highlighting the biologies of specific taxonomic groups mainly as they relate to virulence and possible defenses. Second, we will describe physiological, immunological, and behavioral responses of individual bees toward parasites. Third, bees also show behavioral mechanisms for reducing the disease risk of their nestmates. Accordingly, we discuss the dynamics of hygienic behavior and other group-level behaviors that can limit disease. Finally, we conclude with several avenues of research that seem especially promising for understanding host-parasite relationships in bees and for developing breeding or management strategies for enhancing honey bee defenses. Finally, we will discuss how human efforts to maintain healthy colonies intersect with similar efforts by the bees, and how bee management and breeding protocols can affect disease traits in the short and long term.

Last Modified: 7/31/2014