Honey is many times used as a natural remedy for different human light diseases, but how do the honey bees themselves stay healthy? The answer might be in a recently released study. According to research led by Dartmouth College bees get the necessary remedies to keep them safe from various diseases from the flowers they visit.
The new study uncovered that natural chemicals found in tobacco flowers and different plants help to decrease the infection frequency rate with a typical honey bee parasite by more than 80%.
For this study, distributed in the Royal Society B proceedings on February 18, the scientists infected about 500 eastern honey bees with the intestinal parasite known as Crithidia bombi. As indicated by specialists, this parasite causes a shorter lifespan of the honey bees and even negatively nfluences the queen production of the bee colony.
After infecting them with the parasite, the scientists let the bees to either eat control nectar or one of the eight natural nectar compounds, namely nicotine and anabasine. Both of these are found in the nectar of the flowers of plants belonging to the tobacco family.
These chemicals are otherwise called secondary metabolites and are, in fact, poisonous being produced by the plants as a defense mechanism, to protect themselves against raiders.
The research team discovered that when the flying insects ingested these chemicals, they worked as a medicine to help the bees reduce the intensity of their intestinal parasite contamination by nearly 81%. This was altogether sufficient to contain the spread of the parasites in and between the colonies of bumblebees, noted the analysts. The scientists added:
“Our novel results highlight that although secondary metabolites may not rescue survival in infected bees, they may play a vital role in mediating Crithidia transmission within and between colonies by reducing Crithidia infection intensities”.
According to the researchers, their discoveries recommend that the honey bees can ingest the chemicals as a natural type of treatment. They also pointed that bumble bee growers are already employing thymol from thyme plants as a treatment for vermin infestations.
The naturally produced chemicals are found in the nectar and pollen of the plants according to the researchers’ study. This makes them easily accessible for honey bees to find, collect and eat.
Apart from the nicotine and anabasine, present in the nectar of blooms in the tobacco family the study also focused on: caffeine in coffee and in citrus nectar; amygdalin from almond tree nectar; catalpol and aucubin from turtlehead flowers; gallic acid from buckwheat nectar, and thymol from basswood tree nectar.
Image Source: Science Daily