Natural Products May improve Honeybee Health

USDA Agricultural Research Service researchers from the Bee Research Laboratory found some natural products’ medicinal properties reduced virus levels and improved gut health in honeybees. Among the study’s results, researchers found a significant reduction in virus levels in bees fed raw cacao and hesperidin, a plant chemical commonly found in citrus fruits and other fruits and vegetables. The results also showed that some natural products positively impacted bees’ gut health and immune response. For example, bees fed Vitamin E had significantly decreased levels of a gut bacterium. A gut bacterial imbalance could be bad for bees. If bee diets or treatments help maintain a good mix of ‘good’ bacteria in bees’ guts, it seems to help strengthen their immune responses, according to the study’s results. The 20 natural products used in the study included native extracts and individual compounds. Scientists researched the natural products as possible safer, cost-effective alternatives to antibiotics and synthetic chemicals.