Honeybees – It’s all in the Gut

Honeybees It’s all in the GutAmbience: beesThe population of honey bees has been declining every year. There are thought to be a number causes, including the use of pesticides, which may be effecting both the bees and the beneficial bacteria found in the bees’ digestive system. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Williams: We setup experiments that try and simulate the conditions that let us understand how we think beehives might be responding to pesticides. Mark Williams is an associate professor in the Department of Agriculture at Virginia Tech.Williams: The reason why pesticides are used either in hives or near hives is to fight off infection to reduce the levels of mites that also cause problems for honeybees.What we’re interested in understanding is whether or not these pesticides that honeybees are exposed to in one form or another, either in the hive itself or perhaps in their environment, say during pollination, whether or not these pesticides are not only having direct effects on the bees themselves, but on their key microbiota inside of their intestines, inside of their gut. And whether or not that might be causing negative effects.The honeybee gut, the processing unit for energy and nutrients for the organism is extraordinarily important. If you disrupt it, you are going to definitely have a disruption to honeybees and honeybee colonies.A miticide would be an example of what I’m calling a pesticide. You’re prescribing it because you think it’s the best solution. You think there’s going to be more good done than harm. Just like taking any medication, there’s always the potential for side effects. In this case, our focus is looking at the microbiome of the honeybee – the factory from which they gain their energy and nutrients from the environment.We’ll hear more honeybees in future programs. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Honeybees - It's all in the Gut

A honeybee's best friends just might be the microbiota living in its digestive tract.
Air Date:04/05/2017
Scientist:
Transcript:

Honeybees It's all in the GutAmbience: beesThe population of honey bees has been declining every year. There are thought to be a number causes, including the use of pesticides, which may be effecting both the bees and the beneficial bacteria found in the bees' digestive system. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Williams: We setup experiments that try and simulate the conditions that let us understand how we think beehives might be responding to pesticides. Mark Williams is an associate professor in the Department of Agriculture at Virginia Tech.Williams: The reason why pesticides are used either in hives or near hives is to fight off infection to reduce the levels of mites that also cause problems for honeybees.What we're interested in understanding is whether or not these pesticides that honeybees are exposed to in one form or another, either in the hive itself or perhaps in their environment, say during pollination, whether or not these pesticides are not only having direct effects on the bees themselves, but on their key microbiota inside of their intestines, inside of their gut. And whether or not that might be causing negative effects.The honeybee gut, the processing unit for energy and nutrients for the organism is extraordinarily important. If you disrupt it, you are going to definitely have a disruption to honeybees and honeybee colonies.A miticide would be an example of what I'm calling a pesticide. You're prescribing it because you think it's the best solution. You think there's going to be more good done than harm. Just like taking any medication, there's always the potential for side effects. In this case, our focus is looking at the microbiome of the honeybee - the factory from which they gain their energy and nutrients from the environment.We'll hear more honeybees in future programs. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.