Updated: Jun 26
In the natural world, microbes are on and in everything. On a single apple, for example, there are about 100 million bacteria and most of them are inside of the apple. These microbes are not dirt and rarely would they cause harm or disease. Most of them are benign or even beneficial (1).
In a field of clover or alfalfa beneficial probiotic bacteria thrive (2). Bees naturally encounter multitudes of bacteria. Pollen and nectar contain diverse environmental bacteria - lactic acid bacteria and acetobacteria (3). These bacteria have been shown to aid in digestion. Research also suggests that they provide countless benefits to their hosts. One of these potential benefits is resilience to pesticides (4).
Unfortunately, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and antibiotics are all ANTI-microbial. Their widespread use for decades has decimated the microbial landscape. Even many natural treatments for honeybees such as organic acids or essential oils can be antimicrobial. This combination has left honeybees with a microbial deficit. On top of all of this, the processed pollen substitutes used to supplement bee diets are sterile, at best. All of these factors are compounded by the stress of migratory beekeeping. Thus, many honeybees today need supplemental microbes to bring their gut microbiome back into balance.
This is why we are beginning to see so much research on probiotic microbes and honeybees. Strong Microbials began our search for the best microbes with scientific studies. We only chose microbes that had been proven to be safe and beneficial for honeybees. We depend on science and real-life field-test results to inform our business choices. Additionally, every ingredient we selected is also registered on the FDA's safe food GRAS list (Generally Regarded As Safe).
In the March issue of Bee Culture, Beekeeper M.E.A. McNeil correctly reported that there is a lot yet to discover when it comes to probiotics for honeybees. Thankfully, many research groups are working hard to discover how probiotics benefit honeybees.
A 3-year in vivo study of prebiotic and probiotic feed additives, and their impacts on Nosema and colony health in honey bees, is underway by the Saskatchewan Beekeepers Development Commission Technology Adaptation Team (5).
SBDC research leader Hannah Neil works closely with beekeepers and university researchers. In some of her preliminary, she has stated that “we noticed no significant effect of these supplements on Nosema spore counts or colony strength. One more season of this project is upcoming and will hopefully generate some more concrete results to make recommendations on these products.”
“We had seen more successful results in a smaller scale demonstration on prebiotic & probiotic feed additives in 2017. We found SuperDFM to be the most successful additive at increasing the area of capped brood and cluster size during spring buildup when compared with other available products. More research should be done on the dosing and application of these treatments to generate long-term benefits to colonies.”
Strong Microbials is committed to scientific research and evidence-based implementation of probiotics in agriculture. We are grateful for the teams of researchers testing probiotic supplements. We are dedicated to using only the safest and most effective microbes to help solve our pressing agricultural problems. And, as all good scientists, we are open to change as our scientific understanding grows. After all, nearly a century of scientific research into human probiotics has yet to exhaust our scientific questions.
- Dr. Vera Strogolova
1. Wassermann B, Müller H, Berg G. An apple a day: which bacteria do we eat with organic and conventional apples? Frontiers in Microbiology. 2019 Jul 24;10:1629