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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BEE DIVERSITY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF HEALTHY, SUSTAINABLE BEE POLLINATION SYSTEMS

Location: Pollinating Insects-- Biology, Management and Systematics Research

Title: From silkworms to bees: Diseases of beneficial insects

Authors
item James, Rosalind
item Zengzhi, Li -

Submitted to: Insect Pathology
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: July 8, 2011
Publication Date: January 12, 2012
Citation: James, R.R., Zengzhi, L. 2012. From silkworms to bees: Diseases of beneficial insects. Insect Pathology. 2nd Ed. Elsevier, NY. pp. 425-459.

Interpretive Summary: This book chapter gives diagnostic descriptions and summaries of control methods for diseases of two groups of beneficial insects, silkworms and bees. The bee diseases described are not only from honey bees, but also other managed bees, including the bumbles bees, the alfalfa leafcutting bee, and mason bees. Silkworms and honey bees have been managed by humans for a few thousand years. Loius Pastuer conducted research on silkworms looking for a cure to their diseases, and it was from this effort that he discovered microorganisms and the germ theory of disease. Silkworms and bees are susceptible to a wide range of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protists. These insects are also susceptible to parasites, pesticides, and environmental toxins. Control measures for silkworm diseases center around sanitation, as medication options are extremely limited. During the last century, honey beekeepers have relied on medications to control disease. This approach has produced drug resistant diseases and left beekeepers vulnerable when new diseases arise, diseases for which we have no chemical treatments. An integrated approach, with an emphasis on prevention and sanitation measures would help reduce these problems.

Technical Abstract: The diseases of the silkworm (Bombyx mori) and managed bees, including the honey bee (Apis mellifera), bumbles bees (Bombus spp.), the alfalfa leafcutting bee (Megachile rotundata), and mason bees (Osmia spp.) are reviewed, with diagnostic descriptions and a summary of control methods for production systems. Silkworms and honey bees have been managed by humans for a few thousand years. This close association has provided insights into the nature of infectious diseases, influencing microbiologists such as Louis Pasteur and Agostino Bassi. Silkworms and bees are susceptible to a wide range of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protists. However, pathogenic nematodes are conspicuously absent. These insects are also susceptible to parasitoids, mite parasites, pesticides, and environmental toxics. Control measures for silkworm diseases center around sanitation, as medication options are extremely limited. During the last century, honey beekeeping has developed a reliance on medications, an approach that has produced drug resistant diseases. Furthermore, beekeepers are vulnerable to the introduction of new diseases that do not yet have control methods. An integrated approach, with an emphasis on prevention and sanitation measures would help reduce these problems.

Last Modified: 9/20/2014
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