The science behind our claims:

From the beginning of 2010s new methods, like next generation sequencing, have enabled scientists to peer into the DNA of almost all living organisms on Earth. This includes animals and plants, but also bacteria- arguably the most adaptable group of organisms. Bacteria have adapted to live in the most extreme conditions- from frozen tundras to hot geysers. They have also adapted to live inside other living organisms, helping them digest otherwise undigestable compounds and excreting substances which improve their health[1]. Honeybees have 6 core bacterial communities in their digestive system: Proteobacteria, Firmicutes and Actinobacteria. These bacteria break down complex polysaccharides found in the pollen and nectar that the bees collect from flowers. Bees have a hard time breaking down and digesting these polysaccharides on their own, so these bacteria greatly contribute to the bee well-being. Some of the products this process results in, like organic acids and polyphenols, induce signalling molecules in the bee’s organism that activate the immune system and improve the metabolism of sugars[2],[3],[4]. Moreover the bacteria excrete antimicrobial compounds that prevent other, pathogenic bacteria from colonizing the bees and their honey[5].

In our quest for ever-growing agricultural yields, we often forget the consequences our behavior has on the living world around us. Increasing uses of pesticides and intensive agricultural practice in developed countries has led to accumulation of these chemicals in beehives. Bees, who non-selectively collect pollen and nectar from flowering plants, often introduce these compounds into their beehives from nearby agricultural crops treated with agricultural chemicals. Herbicides[6] and fungicides[7], while non-toxic to adult bees, kill beneficial bacteria in developing bee larvae. This leads to a disbalance in the microbiome[8] and such bees later become less productive and less numerous overall. Additionally, many beekeepers try to prevent and treat bee microbial infections by using antibiotics. This however leads to a vicious cycle in which antibiotics kill the protective beneficial bacteria[9]. The bees then become more susceptible to infections [10] so the beekeeper has to apply antibiotics more often, further compromising the immunity of the beehive while at the same time increasing microbial pathogens’ resistance to antibiotics.

Recently, several research groups have tackled a fundamental question: If bees depend on a healthy microbiome to stay productive and healthy themselves, would administering a bacterial probiotic grown in a lab improve the health and productivity of the beehive? Researchers who used a single strain of bacteria isolated from healthy bees[11],[12] proved that administering it even to healthy beehives leads to a significant increase in the number of larvae present in the beehive and also in the amount of honey extracted from treated beehives compared to untreated ones. Others used a more balanced approach comprising of administering 6 strains ofLactobacillus and Bifidobacteria genera also isolated from healthy bees. The treated beehives showed an increase in the number of larvae of 42% and a 59% increase in harvestable honey compared to untreated beehives[13]. Several studies conducted in laboratory conditions also confirmed that supplementation of probiotic bacteria can provide bees with a certain degree of protection from common pathogenic infections like Nosema ceranae[14] and Paenibacillus larvae[15].