Spanish scientists have developed a treatment for parasitic Microsporidia infection that could help prevent the continual decline in honey bee population afflicting Europe and the USA.
The scientists isolated the Nosema ceranae parasite from professional apiaries suffering from honey bee colony depopulation syndrome, and then went on to treat the infection with complete success.
Nosema ceranae was first identified as a bee parasite in China in 1995 by Professor Ingemar Fries of the Swedish Agricultural University, Uppsala.
In a study published in Environmental Microbiology Reports, the scientists describe how they analysed two apiaries and found evidence of colony collapse disorder.
The scientists found no evidence of any other cause of disease (such as the Varroa destructor, IAPV or pesticides), other than infection with Microsporidia.
The researchers then treated the infected surviving under-populated colonies with the antibiotic drug, flumagillin and demonstrated complete recovery of all infected colonies.
There have been other hypothesis for colony collapse in Europe and the USA, but never has this bug been identified as the primary cause in professional apiaries.
“Now that we know one strain of parasite that could be responsible, we can look for signs of infection and treat any infected colonies before the infection spreads,” said principle researcher, Dr Higes.