Probiotics – The Cutting Edge
More From Sweden And The ARS
Probiotic research will be the greatest advancement in beekeeping since beekeepers figured out how to harvest honey without killing the bees and destroying the nest. Through it, the importance of environment, bee biology and proper management will be united. The focus will be on bee and human health and nutrition.
Natural beekeepers work with these concepts intuitively. But science can clarify and often simplify what we’ve known and have experienced with our bees.
Page 1169 in the December 2009 American Bee Journal describes more research concerning those beneficial critters in a bee’s stomach. From it, I gathered the following:
- 13 species of lactic acid bacteria were found in the bee’s stomach
- the bacteria are unique to the bee
- the bacteria don’t originate in flowers or pollen
- they kill food spoiling bacteria
- they kill honey bee pathogens
- completely suppress foulbrood in bee larva
- compliment the bee’s immune system
- they kill bacteria commonly found in infected human wounds
- are viable in fresh, uncapped honey less than two weeks old
- ferment bee bread
- preserve honey
- fresh unheated honey is a great probiotic
- results have been replicated in Sweden and by the ARS
The implications of this research are profound, both for the bee and for us. And it confirms what many natural beekeepers have known for years:
- anything internal or external that messes with the bees internal bacteria wrecks bee health
- fresh unprocessed honey is best
- heating/processing honey destroys its healthful qualities
Probiotics For Bees
- seasonally scarce
- difficult to maintain
- viability difficult to access
Another option might be to use fresh honey and bee bread to inoculate a pollen patty mixture. The reduced sugar concentration of a pollen patty might allow the bacteria to live longer.
A liquid mixture is cheaper, easier to maintain, and apply than a pollen patty based probiotic. And it reduces the risk of introducing diseases and contaminates if the pollen is purchased and not trapped.
Nothing is known about kombucha and bee lacto bacteria. But using fresh honey, instead of sugar, and bee bread added to the mix would be a good start. My own experience with kombucha indicates that the bacteria involved survive in a range of temperatures for months. Let’s hope it’s the same for the bee’s bacteria.
A kombucha based fresh honey/bee bread mixture could produce a kombucha mushroom inoculated with bee lacto bacteria. Multiple and continuous batches could be produced using the kombucha mushroom.
Maybe it’s the ultimate solution. But my personal experience indicates it lacks the stability and consistency found in a kombucha based culture.