At Strong Microbials we strive to develop practical microbial solutions to agricultural challenges. The key to properly identifying those challenges is in our collaborative relationships and friendships with farmers and beekeepers. Their input informs and shapes all of our products.
Research and quality control are paramount to the efficacy and consistency of our products. At our lab in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee we test each and every blend we produce before it leaves our building. In microbiology, a colony-forming unit or CFU is a unit used to estimate the number of viable bacteria or fungal cells in a given sample. Each one of our blend samples (retainment sample) is tested against our blend CFU requirements to make sure every bacteria is in exactly the right quantity. It is then labeled, dated, frozen, and stored for reference.
The best measure of the efficacy of our silage and forage inoculants is analysis of field samples. Farmers using our silage and forage inoculants can send samples to Dairyland Labs (or the lab of their choice). We pay for the tests and share the results with our client farm. This allows their nutritionist to make feed or practice and methods adjustments and we have the benefit of reliable independent evaluations of the performance of our inoculants.
Honeybee research has been at the forefront of our interest since we developed SuperDFM-Honeybee. We use our own bees as test subjects but also benefit from the generosity of other beekeepers who allow us to run tests on their hives. In addition to monitoring the success of SuperDFM-Honeybee, we are testing biocontrols against Varroa mites and Small Hive Beetles. Our product focus is always on all natural products that in addition to their benefits cause no harm to bees, animals or people. Learn more about our products and supporting studies below.
Bacteria Blend Supporting Research
Improving Hive Health by Supplementing with Super DFM - Honeybee
Figure from: Kwong WK, Moran NA. Gut microbial communities of social bees. Nature Review Microbiology. 2016;14(6):374-84.
Lactic acid bacteria (gray) are abundant and important
members of the honey bee gut microbiome. These bacteria provide
health benefits to honey bees.
Hives receiving Super DFM - Honeybee Has Lower Nosema Levels & Viral Loads
Left: Average Nosema spore count and SEM are shown. p = 0.127
Right: Average Viral load and SD are shown. n = 64 hives per treatment
We sampled hundreds of hives from different states. Super DFM - HoneyBee works across the country. Hives receiving SuperDFM-Honeybee achieve better overwintering survival.
Supplementing Honeybees with Lyophilized Lactic Acid Bacteria Reduces Pathogens
Honeybee populations in Europe and North America have undergone an unprecedented decline within the last decades due to a condition termed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) (Vanengelsdorp et al., 2009, Cox-foster et al., 2007). The cause of CCD is not completely understood but is believed to be a combination of factors including pesticides, mites, and other pathogens. It was recently proposed that microbial imbalance and infection can lead to declining hive health and CCD. What little is known about natural variation in honeybee microbial community suggests that some members of honeybee microbiome can antagonize potential pathogens.
Lactic acid bacteria (LAB), abundant members of the honeybee gut microbiome, are well characterized for inhibiting growth of other bacteria in mixed culture (Audisio et al., 2011, Patruica & Mot, 2012, Belhadj et al., 2014). Additionally, there are reports that LAB increase intestinal mucin production in the gut and thus inhibit pathogen adherence. When pathogens are unable to adhere to gut epithelium, they are more easily eliminated from the host (Servin 2004). It has been shown that LAB reduce honeybee mortality from diseases such as European Foulbrood caused by the bacteria Melissococcus plutonius and American Foulbrood caused by the bacteria Paenibacillus larvae (Vásquez et al. 2012, Wu et al., 2014, Evans & Armstrong, 2006, Alippi & Reynaldi, 2006, Killer et al., 2014). Other pathogens shown to decrease in the presence of LAB are parasitic Varroa destructor mites and Nosema ceranae (Maggi et al., 2013, Audisio et al., 2015, Baffoni et al., 2015). However, improperly selected LAB species such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus administered in sugar-water syrup, have no effect or adverse effects on honey bee health (Ptaszyńska et al. 2016). Administering LAB as lyophilized cultures is commonly recommended as a probiotic regimen for various hosts. Our goal is to understand potential of probiotic supplements for honeybee health.
We investigated abundance and variation in LAB in honeybees by culturing LAB from honeybee samples on MRS (de Man, Rogosa, and Sharpe) agar. LAB levels in samples collected from different locations in the United States were similar (Figure 1). By sampling same locations multiple times, we demonstrated existing seasonal variation in LAB levels (Figure 2). Our working hypothesis is that among other factors, heat stress contributes to the LAB decline.The average monthly temperature in the contiguous United States was 71.6 F (June), 75.2 F (July), 73.5 F (August), 67.1 (September).
Finally, commercial bee hives receiving probiotic, SDFM-HB, containing several species of LAB, were found to have increased LAB levels compared to control bee hives (Figure 3). Furthermore, commercial bee hives that received SDFM-HB had lower incidence of Nosema and viruses, and increased winter survival rates, although the difference was not always statistically significant. Our data suggests that receiving specific lyophilized probiotic supplements benefits honeybee health.
We are working in the lab to create bio-controls for Varroa Mites and Hive Beetles. Below is a product in development known as BioVar.
Updates on our latest product developments are on the way.
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