Natural Product Medicines for Honey Bees: Perspective and Protocols
USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory, BLDG. 306, RM. 315, BARC-EAST, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA
Department of Chemistry, Fort Lewis College, 1000 Rim Drive, Durango, CO 81301, USA
Department of Biological Sciences, Fort Lewis College, 1000 Rim Drive, Durango, CO 81301, USA
Honeybee Research Institute, Jiangxi Agricultural University, Zhimin Avenue 1101, Nanchang 330045, China
Granite Point Ventures LLC, 10 Lakeview Circle, Greenbelt, MD 20770, USA
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2019, 10(10), 356; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10100356
Received: 23 August 2019 / Revised: 7 October 2019 / Accepted: 8 October 2019 / Published: 18 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology of Social Insect Diseases)
The western honey bee remains the most important pollinator for agricultural crops. Disease and stressors threaten honey bee populations and productivity during winter- and summertime, creating costs for beekeepers and negative impacts on agriculture. To combat diseases and improve overall bee health, researchers are constantly developing honey bee medicines using the tools of microbiology, molecular biology and chemistry. Below, we present a manifesto alongside standardized protocols that outline the development and a systematic approach to test natural products as ‘bee medicines’. These will be accomplished in both artificial rearing conditions and in colonies situated in the field. Output will be scored by gene expression data of host immunity, bee survivorship, reduction in pathogen titers, and more subjective merits of the compound in question. Natural products, some of which are already encountered by bees in the form of plant resins and nectar compounds, provide promising low-cost candidates for safe prophylaxis or treatment of bee diseases.