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J Invertebr Pathol. 2003 Sep;84(1):54-8.

Effects of Nosema bombi and its treatment fumagillin on bumble bee (Bombus occidentalis) colonies.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, Canada V5A 1S6.


We examined the effects of Nosema bombi (Microsporidia: Nosematidae) on colonies of bumble bees, Bombus occidentalis Greene (Hymenoptera: Apidae), used to pollinate tomatoes in commercial greenhouses. We assessed methods of detecting N. bombi and tested the effectiveness of fumagillin to control this parasite. N. bombi did not affect adult population size or amount of brood in B. occidentalis colonies. Fumagillin was not effective against N. bombi at the doses we tested, and frass samples did not provide accurate estimates of the intensity of N. bombi infections. The number of N. bombi spores per bee was highly variable among bumble bees within colonies, and accurate estimates could only be obtained by sampling a large proportion of bees in each colony. Therefore, whole bee and frass sampling is useful for determining if N. bombi is present or absent, but not for obtaining accurate estimates of the intensity of N. bombi infections.

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