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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Bee Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #384489

Research Project: Managing Honey Bees Against Disease and Colony Stress

Location: Bee Research Laboratory

Title: Impacts of diverse natural products on honey bee viral loads and health

item Lopez, Dawn
item TAUBER, JAMES - Non ARS Employee
item PALMER-YOUNG, EVAN - Orise Fellow
item CAO, LIANFEI - Zhejiang Academy Of Agricultural Sciences
item Chen, Yanping - Judy
item Grubbs, Kyle
item LOPEZ, JILLIAN - Non ARS Employee
item Meinhardt, Lyndel
item NGUYEN, VY - Non ARS Employee
item OH, SUNGTAEK - Non ARS Employee
item PETERSON, RAYMOND - Orise Fellow
item ZAMORA, HALONDRA - Non ARS Employee
item Evans, Jay

Submitted to: Journal of Insect Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/9/2021
Publication Date: 11/13/2021
Citation: Boncristiani, D.L., Tauber, J.P., Palmer-Young, E., Cao, L., Chen, Y., Grubbs, K.F., Lopez, J.A., Meinhardt, L.W., Nguyen, V., Oh, S., Peterson, R.J., Zamora, H., Evans, J.D. 2021. Impacts of diverse natural products on honey bee viral loads and health. Journal of Insect Science. 11:10732.

Interpretive Summary: Honey bees face multiple disease threats, impacting their abilities to pollinate multiple crops and produce honey and other hive products. Honey bee viruses are widespread and important for bee colony losses. Here we explore a diverse set of natural products, primarily derived from plants, to see which ones show promise as treatments for bee disease. While none of the candidates eliminated viral infection, and most seem to have little effect, we did observe differences in both pathogen levels and the expression of key honey bee immune traits. We also found changes in the core bacterial communities from the honey bee gut, suggesting a broad impact of dietary chemicals on bee fitness. The results can be used in planning safe medicines for treatment honey bee disease.

Technical Abstract: Western honey bees (Apis mellifera), a cornerstone to crop pollination in the US, are faced with an onslaught of challenges from diseases caused by parasites, pathogens, and pests that affect this economically valuable pollinator. Natural products (NPs), produced by living organisms including plants and microorganisms, have shown success in supporting health and combating diseases. NPs include both native extracts and individual compounds known to 1) support immunity, 2) have antiviral /antimicrobial properties and/or 3) control parasites and pests. Here we describe the screening of NPs in laboratory cage studies for their effects on honey bee disease prevention and control, and health improvement. Depending on the expected activity of compounds, we measured varied responses, including viral levels, honey bee immune response, and bacteria loads. Of the NPs screened, several compounds demonstrated beneficial activities in honey bees, including reducing levels of the critical honey bee virus Deformed wing virus (DWV), and positively impacting the gut microbiome and honey bee immune responses. Investigations of medicinal properties of NPs in honey bees will contribute to a better understanding of their potential to support honey bee immunity, fight off pests and pathogens and promote increased overall honey bee health, and will help resolve fundamental issues related to floral choices by pollinators.