General information

Bees being and indispensable ecosystem element, their major role in any ecosystem consists in pollinating. Advantages resulting from bees’ presence have always been valued in agriculture but it is not only cultivated plants that are pollinated by bees. Pollinating native wild plant species, bees help preserve appropriate stability and balance in their ecosystems as they contribute to food production for wild animals and thus help to support numerous plant and animal species.

Unfortunately, bees and other pollinators have been dying out worldwide. Three major causes have been identified that underpin this terrifying phenomenon. To make matters worse, these factors work in synergy, which exacerbates their dramatic effects. The three major causes are: (1) monocultures that impoverish pollen and forage base for honeybees, which causes bees’ malnutrition; (2) commonly used pesticides, which considerably weaken bees; (3) various types of diseases and parasites that find it easier and easier to attack malnourished and weakened insects. The three factors, as well as the loss of biodiversity and a destruction of habitat are particular threats for honeybees and wild pollinators. Will bees survive the Insectaggedon taking its horrible toll among all insect species? Will they survive successive waves of diseases, parasites and predators?

Our team have been testing various types of natural and synthetic substances that help bees survive at the time when pesticides are commonly used and more and more monocultures are being developed.

We have tested extracts from adaptogenic plants with a view to combating nosemosis. Not only did these substances prove non-toxic, but they also showed high therapeutic levels in honeybees’ infections with Nosema spp. They were effective in improving bees’ immunity, which manifested in the increase in the phenoloxidase activity. The increase in the phenoloxidase activity immediately following administering the extracts proves the immune system has been activated, owing to which the insects more easily fight their infections.

Bee-dedicated probiotics have beneficial effects on bees’ health both prophylactically and therapeutically. Lactobacillus kunkeii bacteria deserve special attention as probiotic organisms because they restore their host’s natural and appropriately functioning complex of gut microorganisms – their so called microbiome. They achieve this through competing with pathogenic microorganisms for nutrients and attachment sites, easing and preventing gut disorders triggered by pathogens. This is because probiotics synthetize lactic acid, acetic acid, H2O2 as well as bacteriocin-like compounds, and finally synthetize a number of enzymes affecting food digestibility and thus modulate their hosts’ immunological reaction.

Api Lab UMCS PPI/PZA/2019/1/00039

The Project is financed by the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange under the Foreign Promotion Programme.

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