Bacteria in flowers may boost honeybees’ healthy gut microbes | Science News

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Bacteria in flowers may boost honeybees’ healthy gut microbes

Fructobacillus may be critical to larvae gaining ability to digest insects’ diet, study suggests

7:00am, August 16, 2015

BUSY BEE   A honeybee may collect beneficial bacteria while it’s harvesting pollen and nectar from flowers.

Honeybees were into probiotics way before they were cool, a new study suggests.

The hipster insects serve up beneficial bacteria that may help baby bees develop a healthy blend of gut microbes, researchers report online August 7 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Without those thriving gut communities, the critical pollinators may have trouble digesting their plant-based food.

It’s a lot like getting a dollop of probiotic yogurt, says study coauthor Irene Newton, a microbiologist at Indiana University Bloomington. The supportive bacteria, Fructobacillus, may help bee microbes settle snugly in young bee guts. And, just like in humans, a dose of antibiotics — at times used to ward off hive diseases — might disrupt the process, she warns.

Newton and colleagues discovered the charitable bacteria while surveying the microbes in three hives.

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