A new study, carried out by Wellesley College, has indentified that the healthiest and most productive honey bee colonies also harbour the most abundent and diverse probiotics in their digestive tracts. The researchers identified four different genera of probiotic bacteria in healthy honey bee colonies, including Succinivibrio, Oenococcus, Bifidobacterium and Paralactobacillus. The bees take advantage of the probiotics in order to convert indigestible material into nutritious food and to enhance their immunity against potentially pathogenic microorganisms.

The researchers found that the less healthy honey bee colonies had a 127% higher activity of potential plant and animal pathogens in their digestive tract. Researcher L. G Newton commented on their findings, "We are particularly interested in these results, and think the public will be too, given the alarming honey bee colony losses in recent years due to Colony Collapse Disorder, as well as the role that these pollinators play in the security of our food supply." The findings may provide a greater understanding of bee colony health and how to prevent Colony Collapse Disorder.

OptiBac says: Try putting some Bifidobacterium on your garden flowers for the bees this spring ...only joking! We make probiotics for humans silly!

Reference: Mattila, R. et al (2010) Characterization of the Active Microbiotas Associated with Honey Bees Reveals Healthier and Broader Communities when Colonies are Genetically Diverse. PLoS ONE. Published online