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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Bee Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #367212

Research Project: Managing Honey Bees against Disease and Colony Stress

Location: Bee Research Laboratory

Title: Natural product medicines for honey bees: Perspective and protocols

item TAUBER, JAMES - Non ARS Employee
item COLLINS, WILLIAM - Fort Lewis College
item SCHWARZ, RYAN - Fort Lewis College
item Chen, Yanping - Judy
item Grubbs, Kyle
item HUANG, QIANG - Jiangxi Agricultural University
item Lopez, Dawn
item PETERSON, RAYMOND - Non ARS Employee
item Evans, Jay

Submitted to: Insects
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/8/2019
Publication Date: 10/18/2019
Citation: Tauber, J., Collins, W., Schwarz, R., Chen, Y., Grubbs, K.F., Huang, Q., Lopez, D.L., Peterson, R., Evans, J.D. 2019. Natural product medicines for honey bees: Perspective and protocols. Insects. 10(10):356.

Interpretive Summary: Honey bees face numerous parasites and pathogens. Recently there has been much interest in the use of so-called natural products for bee health, building on ecological work studying propolis and specific plant nectars collected by bees. Here we describe recent advances in this field, and set a path forward for exploiting natural compounds for honey bee health. The results will be improved safe strategies for keeping bees healthy and helping them play important roles in agriculture.

Technical Abstract: The western honey bee remains the most important pollinator for agricultural crops. Disease and stressors threaten honey bee populations and productivity during winter- and summertime, creating costs for beekeepers and negative impacts on agriculture. To combat diseases and improve overall bee health, researchers are constantly developing honey bee medicines using the tools of microbiology, molecular biology, and chemistry. Below we present a manifesto alongside standardized protocols for developing natural products to combat honey bee diseases and, more generally, testing ‘bee medicines.’ These will be accomplished in both artificial rearing conditions and in colonies situated in the field. Output will be scored by gene expression data of host immunity, survivorship, reduction in pathogen titers, and more subjective merits of the compound in question. Natural products, some of which are already encountered by bees in the form of plant resins and nectar compounds, provide promising low-cost candidates for safe prophylaxis or treatment of bee diseases.