Dr. Vera Strogolova Featured on Frederick Dunn Podcast

Updated: Jun 26

Dr. Vera Strogolova, co-founder of Strong Microbials, visited Frederick Dunn’s podcast, This is the Way to Bee. Dr. Strogolova shared the story behind Strong Microbials, SuperDFM® HoneyBee, and SuperDFM®+P801, as well as the important role probiotics play in honey bee health. Watch the full interview above and check out our top takeaways below.

Bacteria Creates a Balanced Ecosystem

Dr. Strogolova explained the basic idea of micro-organisms and bacteria. Many people are used to the idea of probiotics for humans and animals, and generally understand how they benefit gut health. Even though bugs and insects are much smaller than animals, they still have a very complex life that includes socialization, organization, and things that are important for the health of the ecosystem.

“Nothing is really sterile. Everything is alive in nature. So, all of the surfaces – each blade of grass – actually have a lot of bacteria and fungi and microorganisms on it. For the most part, it is a pretty balanced ecosystem,” Dr. Strogolova said. “If we are looking at a honey bee gut, there are billions of bacteria in there but it could be a very healthy situation in most cases. Even though some bacteria that are present are pathogenic, usually you have more than one type of bacteria and that balance usually keeps disease at bay.”

Imbalance creates the opportunity for diseases to take over and make honey bees sick. Which is where a boost from the good bacteria in probiotics such as SuperDFM® HoneyBee, and SuperDFM®+P801 can help bees overcome health challenges.

Research is Ongoing

According to Dr. Strogolova, the scientific community is still learning about microbiomes – the community of bacteria that live in the gut – for humans, animals, and insects. Strong Microbials studies the research done by the scientific community on the honey bee microbiome to identify good bacteria to grow in their probiotic formula, then conducts field trials with hundreds of beekeepers to confirm findings and learn and adjust as needed. They are in constant search for the bacteria that could inhibit honey bee pathogens from taking over.

For example, in a study about Colony Collapse Disorder, scientists were looking for a pathogen that would cause CCD or that would make the bees sick.

They did not find any particular bacteria to pinpoint, but they did see when they compared healthy to sick bees, the sick bees had much less lactic acid bacteria,” Dr. Strogolova said. “Lactic acid bacteria are often used for probiotics and to help with digestion in honeybees, insects, and animals. It’s a class of bacteria that can deliver benefits to the host.”

How to Know if Probiotics Work

It is not easy to study honey bees because there are so many factors – the bees themselves, the geography of a hive location, and diverse beekeeping practices. One way Strong Microbials conducts its research is to work with an apiary and only give SuperDFM® to half of the colonies. This creates a control group because everything else about colonies is the same. From there they track over time: colony size, frames of bees, brood patterns, lab analysis for Nosema and other pathogens, and analysis of lactic acid bacteria, which is the good bacteria that keeps bees healthy.

“We receive very good results and feedback – for the most part everyone is happy. We usually see the most difference when there is a challenge,” Dr. Strogolova said. “With probiotics in other areas of agriculture, it is a rule of thumb that you use probiotics when you have some challenges. In beekeeping there are lot of challenges, including chemical exposure, pesticide exposure in their environment. Bees