Over the years, numerous studies have proven the use of probiotics in the survival of different bee species all over the world. Now, three new bacterial species under the genus Lactobacillus, a known probiotic that benefits both humans and bees have been uncovered to be a valuable factor for the survival of wild bees’ young.
A new study conducted by specialists from the University of California, Riverside discovered three bacterial species and found that they contribute to the better survival of wild bees through the preservation of pollen and nectar that they later feed to their offspring.
Pollen and Nectar: How Wild Bees Nourish Their Young
Now, scientists are even more optimistic about the survival of wild bees after three previously unknown species of symbiotic bacteria have been found to be beneficial for the insects’ food digestion and in boosting their immunity.
Conducted by a team of experts led by UCR College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences Entomology Assistant Professor Quinn McFrederic, the study covered all bases when it comes to wild bees since this particular species have very little information known about how they survived all these years.
According to the team, the wild bees’ eggs are laid inside nectar- and pollen-filled chambers. These substances serve as food for the buzzers’ offspring once they develop into young bees. However, a wild bee egg usually takes a couple of days to hatch. On top of that, their time as larvae usually takes a week more, so it can be quite a while before the little stingers begin consuming their provisions.
Fortunately, the three newly-discovered bacteria work to prevent fungi from growing in the nectar and pollen, thereby avoiding spoilage.
The New Members of the Lactobacilli Genus
Named Lactobacillus micheneri, Lactobacillus timberlakei, and Lactobacillus quenuiae after renowned personalities in bee study Charles D. Michener, Philip Timberlake, and Cécile Plateaux-Quénu, respectively, the three bacteria species were discovered and isolated in flowers and wild bees’ gut.
By using genomic DNA sequencing as well as traditional analysis in taxonomy, researchers from the University of California, Riverside were able to isolate the new species under the Lactobacillus genus. After careful examination, it was also discovered that these three new species are closely related to the Lactobacillus kunkeei, a kind of bacteria known for its connection to honeybees.
According to the study published in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, Lactobacilli has proven to be very useful for humans, especially in preserving fermented vegetables, dairy products, and other kinds of food. Now, three species of this bacteria have been found to do the same for wild bees’ provisions for their young.
The Study Methodology Explained
Before McFrederick and his co-authors’ discovery came to light, the survival of wild bees remained a mystery, especially when compared to bumblebees and honeybees. Because of this, the team gathered colonies of flowers and wild bees to two controlled environments at the UCR campus and in Texas.
Using traditional analysis in taxonomy as well as DNA sequencing on the bacterial genome found in wild bees and flowers, the team were able to find that the Lactobacillus micheneri, Lactobacillus timberlakei, and Lactobacillus quenuiae closely resemble the anti-spoil action more commonly seen in Lactobacillus kunkeei.
Mother Nature’s Gift
In a sense, this discovery has proven that even the wildest species of bees are able to survive extinction despite humans’ numerous blunders in the quest of eradicating “pests,” all thanks to nature’s gifts. These newly-discovered bacteria— encased in flowers, no less— is proof that Mother Nature will ensure that her children are safe and sound.