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Trends Microbiol. 2011 Dec;19(12):614-20. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2011.09.003. Epub 2011 Oct 25.

Bees brought to their knees: microbes affecting honey bee health.

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United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Bee Research Laboratory, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) East Building 476, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA.


The biology and health of the honey bee Apis mellifera has been of interest to human societies for centuries. Research on honey bee health is surging, in part due to new tools and the arrival of colony-collapse disorder (CCD), an unsolved decline in bees from parts of the United States, Europe, and Asia. Although a clear understanding of what causes CCD has yet to emerge, these efforts have led to new microbial discoveries and avenues to improve our understanding of bees and the challenges they face. Here we review the known honey bee microbes and highlight areas of both active and lagging research. Detailed studies of honey bee-pathogen dynamics will help efforts to keep this important pollinator healthy and will give general insights into both beneficial and harmful microbes confronting insect colonies.

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