Special Issue "Challenges and Advances in Bee Health and Diseases"

A special issue of Veterinary Sciences (ISSN 2306-7381). This special issue belongs to the section "Veterinary Microbiology, Parasitology and Immunology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2022 | Viewed by 15362

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Antonio Nanetti
E-Mail
Guest Editor
CREA Research Centre for Agriculture and Environment, 00198 Roma, Italy
Interests: honeybee; nosemosis; bee health
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Following the great participation that the Special Issue “Honey Bee Health” saw, we have decided to launch another issue on this topic. This new invitation extends beyond honeybees, including also wild and solitary bees.

Honeybee diseases are continuously studied by researchers to investigate their relationship with host/parasites. Diseases are caused by several types of pathogens: bacteria, such as Melissococcus plutonius and Paenibacillus larvae; microsporidia, such as Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae; fungi, such as Ascosphaera apis; trypanosomatids, such as Crithidia mellificae, Lotmaria passim, and Crithidia bombi; mites, such as Varroa destructor; predatory wasps, including Vespa velutina; and invasive beetle, such as Aethina tumida, all of which are of great veterinary interest.

All these pathogens may be able to infect not only other bees, such as Bombus spp., Osmia spp., Megachiles spp., etc, but also invasive species that could be vectors for the honeybee population—not only Varroa destructor, which represents the mainly virus transmission route, but also Aethina tumida and Vespa velutina, which can be infected by a wide range of bee pathogens, but whose roles in epidemiology remain unclear.

Recently, host–pathogen interactions for bee health have been included in a multifactorial approach, involving a dynamic balance among a range of threats and resources interacting at multiple levels of scale.

The aim of this Special Issue is to explore bee health through a series of research articles focused on different aspects of bee health, including Apis mellifera but also other wild bee species, at different levels of organization, including molecular health, microbial health, population genetic health, and interaction with invasive species that live in close contact with the bee population.

Dr. Giovanni Cilia
Dr. Antonio Nanetti
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • bee pathogens
  • Apis mellifiera
  • bee health
  • wild bees
  • Apoidei
  • honeybee–wild bee spillover
  • spillover
  • host–pathogen interaction
  • invasive pest
  • bee bacteria
  • bee virus
  • microsporidia
  • Melissococcus plutonius
  • Paenibacillus larvae
  • Nosema apis
  • Nosema ceranae
  • Ascosphaera apis
  • Aspegillus spp.
  • Lotmaria passim
  • Crithidia bombi
  • Crithidia mellificae
  • acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV)
  • chronic bee paralysis virus (CBPV)
  • Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV)
  • black queen cell virus (BQCV)
  • deformed wing virus (DWV)
  • sac brood virus (SBV)
  • Kashmir bee virus (KBV)

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Article
Genotype, but Not Climate, Affects the Resistance of Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) to Viral Infections and to the Mite Varroa destructor
Vet. Sci. 2022, 9(7), 358; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci9070358 - 15 Jul 2022
Viewed by 428
Abstract
This study was conducted to analyze the effect of genotype and climate on the resistance of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies to parasitic and viral diseases. The prevalence and intensity of parasitism by Varroa destructor, or infection by Nosema spp., [...] Read more.
This study was conducted to analyze the effect of genotype and climate on the resistance of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies to parasitic and viral diseases. The prevalence and intensity of parasitism by Varroa destructor, or infection by Nosema spp., and four honey bee viruses were determined in 365 colonies of predominantly European or African ancestry (descendants of A. m. scutellata) in subtropical and temperate regions of Mexico. Varroa destructor was the most prevalent parasite (95%), whilst N. ceranae was the least prevalent parasite (15%). Deformed wing virus (DWV) and black queen cell virus (BQCV) were the only viruses detected, at frequencies of 38% and 66%, respectively. Varroa destructor was significantly more prevalent in colonies of European ancestry (p < 0.05), and the intensity of parasitism by V. destructor or infection by DWV and BQCV was also significantly higher in colonies of European descent than in African descent colonies (p < 0.01), although no genotype–parasite associations were found for N. ceranae. Additionally, significant and positive correlations were found between V. destructor and DWV levels, and the abundance of these pathogens was negatively correlated with the African ancestry of colonies (p < 0.01). However, there were no significant effects of environment on parasitism or infection intensity for the colonies of both genotypes. Therefore, it is concluded that the genotype of honey bee colonies, but not climate, influences their resistance to DWV, BQCV, and V. destructor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Advances in Bee Health and Diseases)
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Article
Comparison of Two Diagnostic Techniques for the Apis mellifera Varroatosis: Strengths, Weaknesses and Impact on the Honeybee Health
Vet. Sci. 2022, 9(7), 354; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci9070354 - 13 Jul 2022
Viewed by 424
Abstract
Varroa destructor is the most dangerous pest that poses a threat to honey bee survival. In recent years, increasingly worrying phenomena of drug resistance have occurred to various active ingredients of pharmaceutical formulations used to control this parasitosis. Determining the level of infestation [...] Read more.
Varroa destructor is the most dangerous pest that poses a threat to honey bee survival. In recent years, increasingly worrying phenomena of drug resistance have occurred to various active ingredients of pharmaceutical formulations used to control this parasitosis. Determining the level of infestation is essential to preventing the inappropriate use and abuse of veterinary medicines, and to choose the most appropriate time for treatment. This comparative study investigates the sensitivity and diagnostic accuracy of two field techniques for diagnosing V. destructor infestations in hives. The EasyCheck device (Véto-pharma) was used in two of its application modes, namely, the sugar roll test and carbon dioxide (CO2) injection. The experiments were conducted on 15 samples of 300 bees each taken from the same frame and checked for the presence of mites using standard and modified field techniques in both uncaged and caged queen hive conditions. The results demonstrate that the sugar roll technique is significantly more effective and safer than CO2 injection, allowing for a higher accuracy in diagnosing a V. destructor infestation. Furthermore, the evaluation of mites present on bees in brood block conditions has proven to be particularly reliable. Considering the number of mites on the filter of the device as an additional step helps to implement the diagnostic accuracy of the CO2 injection technique, however, not achieving the efficacy results of the sugar roll. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Advances in Bee Health and Diseases)
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Article
Colonisation Patterns of Nosema ceranae in the Azores Archipelago
Vet. Sci. 2022, 9(7), 320; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci9070320 - 25 Jun 2022
Viewed by 687
Abstract
Nosema ceranae is a highly prevalent pathogen of Apis mellifera, which is distributed worldwide. However, there may still exist isolated areas that remain free of N. ceranae. Herein, we used molecular tools to survey the Azores to detect N. ceranae and [...] Read more.
Nosema ceranae is a highly prevalent pathogen of Apis mellifera, which is distributed worldwide. However, there may still exist isolated areas that remain free of N. ceranae. Herein, we used molecular tools to survey the Azores to detect N. ceranae and unravel its colonisation patterns. To that end, we sampled 474 colonies from eight islands in 2014/2015 and 91 from four islands in 2020. The findings revealed that N. ceranae was not only present but also the dominant species in the Azores. In 2014/2015, N. apis was rare and N. ceranae prevalence varied between 2.7% in São Jorge and 50.7% in Pico. In 2020, N. ceranae prevalence increased significantly (p < 0.001) in Terceira and São Jorge also showing higher infection levels. The spatiotemporal patterns suggest that N. ceranae colonised the archipelago recently, and it rapidly spread across other islands, where at least two independent introductions might have occurred. Flores and Santa Maria have escaped the N. ceranae invasion, and it is remarkable that Santa Maria is also free of Varroa destructor, which makes it one of the last places in Europe where the honey bee remains naive to these two major biotic stressors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Advances in Bee Health and Diseases)
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Communication
The Haptomonad Stage of Crithidia acanthocephali in Apis mellifera Hindgut
Vet. Sci. 2022, 9(6), 298; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci9060298 - 16 Jun 2022
Viewed by 742
Abstract
Crithidia acanthocephali is a trypanosomatid species that was initially described in the digestive tract of Hemiptera. However, this parasite was recently detected in honey bee colonies in Spain, raising the question as to whether bees can act as true hosts for this species. [...] Read more.
Crithidia acanthocephali is a trypanosomatid species that was initially described in the digestive tract of Hemiptera. However, this parasite was recently detected in honey bee colonies in Spain, raising the question as to whether bees can act as true hosts for this species. To address this issue, worker bees were experimentally infected with choanomastigotes from the early stationary growth phase and after 12 days, their hindgut was extracted for analysis by light microscopy and TEM. Although no cellular lesions were observed in the honey bee’s tissue, trypanosomatids had differentiated and adopted a haptomonad morphology, transforming their flagella into an attachment pad. This structure allows the protozoa to remain attached to the gut walls via hemidesmosomes-such as junctions. The impact of this species on honey bee health, as well as the pathogenic mechanisms involved, remains unknown. Nevertheless, these results suggest that insect trypanosomatids may have a broader range of hosts than initially thought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Advances in Bee Health and Diseases)
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Article
Antimicrobial Activity from Putative Probiotic Lactic Acid Bacteria for the Biological Control of American and European Foulbrood Diseases
Vet. Sci. 2022, 9(5), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci9050236 - 12 May 2022
Viewed by 1280
Abstract
The balance of the gut microbiome is important for the honey bee’s growth and development, immune function and defense against pathogens. The use of a beneficial bacteria-based strategy for the prevention and biocontrol of American foulbrood (AFB) and European foulbrood (EFB) diseases in [...] Read more.
The balance of the gut microbiome is important for the honey bee’s growth and development, immune function and defense against pathogens. The use of a beneficial bacteria-based strategy for the prevention and biocontrol of American foulbrood (AFB) and European foulbrood (EFB) diseases in honey bees offers interesting prospects. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are common inhabitants of the gastrointestinal tract of the honey bee. Among LABs associated with bee gut microbiota, Lactiplantibacillus plantarum (previously Lactobacillus plantarum) and Apilactobacillus kunkeei (formerly classified as Lactobacillus kunkeei) are two of the most abundant species. In this study, four Lactiplantibacillus plantarum strains and four Apilactobacillus kunkeei strains, isolated from the gastrointestinal tract of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) were selected for their in vitro inhibition ability of Paenibacillus larvae ATCC 9545 and Melissococccus plutonius ATCC 35311. In addition, these LABs have been characterized through some biochemical and functional characteristics: cell surface properties (hydrophobicity and auto-aggregation), carbohydrates assimilation and enzymatic activities. The antimicrobial, biochemical and cell surface properties of these LABs have been functional to their candidature as potential probiotics in beekeeping and for the biocontrol of AFB and EFB diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Advances in Bee Health and Diseases)
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Article
Green Veterinary Pharmacology for Honey Bee Welfare and Health: Origanum heracleoticum L. (Lamiaceae) Essential Oil for the Control of the Apis mellifera Varroatosis
Vet. Sci. 2022, 9(3), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci9030124 - 09 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1168
Abstract
Varroatosis, caused by the Varroa destructor mite, is currently the most dangerous parasitic disease threatening the survival of honey bees worldwide. Its adverse effect on the welfare and health of honey bees requires the regular use of specific acaricides. This condition has led [...] Read more.
Varroatosis, caused by the Varroa destructor mite, is currently the most dangerous parasitic disease threatening the survival of honey bees worldwide. Its adverse effect on the welfare and health of honey bees requires the regular use of specific acaricides. This condition has led to a growing development of resistance phenomena towards the most frequently used drugs. In addition, another important aspect that should not be understated, is the toxicity and persistence of chemicals in the environment. Therefore, the identification of viable and environmentally friendly alternatives is urgently needed. In this scenario, essential oils are promising candidates. The aim of this study was to assess the contact toxicity, the fumigation efficacy and the repellent effect of Origanum heracleoticum L. essential oil (EO) against V. destructor mite. In the contact tests, each experimental replicate consisted of 15 viable adult female mites divided as follows: 5 treated with EO diluted in HPLC grade acetone, 5 treated with acetone alone (as negative control) and 5 treated with Amitraz diluted in acetone (as positive control). The EO was tested at concentrations of 0.125, 0.25, 0.5, 1 and 2 mg/mL. For each experimental replicate, mortality was manually assessed after one hour. The efficacy of EO fumigation was evaluated through prolonged exposure at different time intervals. After each exposure, the 5 mites constituting an experimental replicate were transferred to a Petri dish containing a honey bee larva and mortality was assessed after 48 h. The repellent action was investigated by implementing a directional choice test in a mandatory route. During the repellency tests the behavior of the mite (90 min after its introduction in the mandatory route) was not influenced by the EO. In contact tests, EO showed the best efficacy at 2 and 1 mg/mL concentrations, neutralizing (dead + inactivated) 90.9% and 80% of the mites, respectively. In fumigation tests, the mean mortality rate of V. destructor at maximum exposure time (90 min) was 60% and 84% at 24 and 48 h, respectively. Overall, these results demonstrate a significant efficacy of O. heracleoticum EO against V. destructor, suggesting a possible alternative use in the control of varroatosis in honey bee farms in order to improve Apis mellifera welfare and health and, consequently, the hive productions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Advances in Bee Health and Diseases)
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Article
Replicative Deformed Wing Virus Found in the Head of Adults from Symptomatic Commercial Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) Colonies
Vet. Sci. 2021, 8(7), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci8070117 - 23 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2237
Abstract
The deformed wing virus (DWV) is one of the most common honey bee pathogens. The virus may also be detected in other insect species, including Bombus terrestris adults from wild and managed colonies. In this study, individuals of all stages, castes, and sexes [...] Read more.
The deformed wing virus (DWV) is one of the most common honey bee pathogens. The virus may also be detected in other insect species, including Bombus terrestris adults from wild and managed colonies. In this study, individuals of all stages, castes, and sexes were sampled from three commercial colonies exhibiting the presence of deformed workers and analysed for the presence of DWV. Adults (deformed individuals, gynes, workers, males) had their head exscinded from the rest of the body and the two parts were analysed separately by RT-PCR. Juvenile stages (pupae, larvae, and eggs) were analysed undissected. All individuals tested positive for replicative DWV, but deformed adults showed a higher number of copies compared to asymptomatic individuals. Moreover, they showed viral infection in their heads. Sequence analysis indicated that the obtained DWV amplicons belonged to a strain isolated in the United Kingdom. Further studies are needed to characterize the specific DWV target organs in the bumblebees. The result of this study indicates the evidence of DWV infection in B. terrestris specimens that could cause wing deformities, suggesting a relationship between the deformities and the virus localization in the head. Further studies are needed to define if a specific organ could be a target in symptomatic bumblebees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Advances in Bee Health and Diseases)
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Article
In Vitro Activity of Several Essential Oils Extracted from Aromatic Plants against Ascosphaera apis
Vet. Sci. 2021, 8(5), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci8050080 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2112
Abstract
The use of natural substances such as essentials oils against bee pathogens is of great interest as an alternative to traditional methods based on synthetic compounds like antibiotics and fungicides, in order to minimize the risk of having toxic residues in hive products [...] Read more.
The use of natural substances such as essentials oils against bee pathogens is of great interest as an alternative to traditional methods based on synthetic compounds like antibiotics and fungicides, in order to minimize the risk of having toxic residues in hive products and to prevent the development of resistance phenomena. This study evaluated the inhibitory, fungicidal and sporicidal activity of ten essential oils extracted from aromatic plants against Ascosphaera apis, the etiological agent of chalkbrood, an invasive honey bee mycosis. The most effective essential oils were Thymus herba-barona, Thymus capitatus and Cinnamomum zeylanicum, which showed values of minimum fungicidal concentration and minimum sporicidal concentration ranging from 200 to 400 ppm. Carvacrol was the main component of Thymus capitatus and Thymus herba-barona oils, whereas cinnamic aldehyde prevailed in Cinnamomum zeylanicum oil. Further in-apiary studies will allow the evaluation of side effects on bees and residues in hive products. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Advances in Bee Health and Diseases)
Article
Bee Health and Productivity in Apis mellifera, a Consequence of Multiple Factors
Vet. Sci. 2021, 8(5), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci8050076 - 04 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2943
Abstract
Managed honeybees play an important role as pollinators. The health and nutritional condition of honeybee colonies (Apis mellifera L.) depends for an important part on management practices, and it is influenced by multiple factors. This study aims to identify the stressors that [...] Read more.
Managed honeybees play an important role as pollinators. The health and nutritional condition of honeybee colonies (Apis mellifera L.) depends for an important part on management practices, and it is influenced by multiple factors. This study aims to identify the stressors that lead to the loss of honeybee health and its consequences on the colony’s productivity. Different aspects related to management practices, productivity, clinical observations related to diseases, presence of sanitary gaps in the apiaries, colony strength, weather and infestation rates by Varroa sp. mites were measured. The information was collected during two monitoring in 53 apiaries in the Province of Santa Fe, Argentina. The results show correlations among many of the management practices, health condition and yield. The most important factors affecting the productivity of the studied honeybee colonies were nuclei preparation, the number of combs in the brood chamber, change of bee queen, disinfection of beekeeping material, among other less significant ones. Although honey production is important in the region, the colony strength was deficient and inadequate during both monitoring. Due to its dependence on management by the beekeeper, it is suggested that a holistic approach could improve bee health, increasing the productivity of honeybees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Advances in Bee Health and Diseases)
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Review

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Review
Bee Stressors from an Immunological Perspective and Strategies to Improve Bee Health
Vet. Sci. 2022, 9(5), 199; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci9050199 - 21 Apr 2022
Viewed by 1446
Abstract
Honeybees are the most prevalent insect pollinator species; they pollinate a wide range of crops. Colony collapse disorder (CCD), which is caused by a variety of biotic and abiotic factors, incurs high economic/ecological loss. Despite extensive research to identify and study the various [...] Read more.
Honeybees are the most prevalent insect pollinator species; they pollinate a wide range of crops. Colony collapse disorder (CCD), which is caused by a variety of biotic and abiotic factors, incurs high economic/ecological loss. Despite extensive research to identify and study the various ecological stressors such as microbial infections, exposure to pesticides, loss of habitat, and improper beekeeping practices that are claimed to cause these declines, the deep understanding of the observed losses of these important insects is still missing. Honeybees have an innate immune system, which includes physical barriers and cellular and humeral responses to defend against pathogens and parasites. Exposure to various stressors may affect this system and the health of individual bees and colonies. This review summarizes and discusses the composition of the honeybee immune system and the consequences of exposure to stressors, individually or in combinations, on honeybee immune competence. In addition, we discuss the relationship between bee nutrition and immunity. Nutrition and phytochemicals were highlighted as the factors with a high impact on honeybee immunity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Advances in Bee Health and Diseases)
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Other

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Brief Report
Molecular Detection of Nosema spp. in Honey in Bulgaria
Vet. Sci. 2022, 9(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci9010010 - 28 Dec 2021
Viewed by 736
Abstract
Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis is related to screening genetic material of various organisms in environmental samples. Honey represents a natural source of exogenous DNA, which allows for the detection of different honey bee pathogens and parasites. In the present study, we extracted DNA [...] Read more.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis is related to screening genetic material of various organisms in environmental samples. Honey represents a natural source of exogenous DNA, which allows for the detection of different honey bee pathogens and parasites. In the present study, we extracted DNA from 20 honey samples from different regions in Bulgaria and tested for the presence of DNA of the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor, as well as Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae. Only Nosema ceranae was detected, showing up in 30% of all samples, which confirms the widespread prevalence of this pathogen. All positive samples were found in plain regions of the country, while this pathogen was not detected in mountainous parts. None of the samples gave positive amplifications for the Nosema apis and Varroa mite. The obtained results from this study confirm previous observations that eDNA contained in honey is a potent source for effective biomonitoring of actual diseases in the honey bee. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Advances in Bee Health and Diseases)
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