Antimicrobial Peptides: A Key Component of Honey Bee Innate Immunity

International Bee Research Association (IBRA) Facebook Post   January 19, 2016

Honey bees, in common with other insects, rely on a mixture of strategies to defend themselves against pathogens: - 

(1) physical barriers 
(2) immunity mediated by the cell 
(3) and non-cellular mediated humoral immunity 
This last is a complex network of pathways, which when triggered, activate a variety of humoral factors, including production of anti-microbial proteins (AMPs).

Honey bees have four main classes of AMPs and how they are activated and work is examined, along with molecular regulation of AMPs in this review paper.

For example, AMPs harm invading pathogens either by making their membranes leaky or impeding the manufacture of their proteins, thereby protecting the infected honey bee.

What’s new?
This is a review paper so pulls together many recent papers on the knowledge of bee immunity into a handy single report. This is an exciting area of bee research and the authors, including Journal of Apicultural Research’s Associate Editor Kate Aronstein, have attempted to discuss how AMPs are activated and how they help bees deal with pathogens, pesticides and other environmental stressors.

What difference does it make to me? 
Until recently, we knew comparatively little about bee immunity. Indeed, when researchers worked out the honey bee genome surprise was expressed about how few immunity genes bees possessed.

One interesting point they raise is that researchers have found that Varroa suppresses these defensive AMPs which leaves the bees less able to resist pathogens. Equally, Nosema and some viral infections may also suppress bee immune responses but these are complex relationships.

Much still needs to be understood and the full impact of using newer molecular techniques such RNA interference studies and proteinomics will hopefully reveal yet more understanding and (hopefully) help us discover solutions.

Find the paper here (sadly not free to view):
Free to subscribers of the Journal of Apicultural Research.

Varroa destructor on a developing bee. 
Photo Credit: Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS

Read at: International Bee Research Association (IBRA) Facebook Post 

Journal of Apicultural Research

The 2014 ISI Journal Impact Factors have now been published, and the Impact Factor of IBRA’s Journal of Apicultural Research has increased to 1.895, making the journal now ranked 16th out of 92 journals in the category “Entomology”, its highest ever ranking. The 5-Year Impact Factor has also increased to 1.942. The Journal of Apicultural Research is a refereed scientific journal dedicated to bringing the best research on bees. It publishes original research articles, original theoretical papers, notes, comments and authoritative reviews on scientific aspects of the biology, ecology, natural history, conservation and culture of all types of bee (superfamily Apoidea).Thanks to all of our authors, editors, referees, IBRA members and institutional subscribers for achieving this. Long may it continue!

Please note the new online submission system for Journal of Apicultural Research articles is available on

IBRA: The Bee World Project

IBRA's The Bee World Project 

The International Bee Research Association (IBRA) was established in 1949 for the advancement of beekeeping science. It is unique and has the largest database of scientific information on bees and bee related interests in the world.

IBRA is internationally recognised as the world’s single source and foremost provider of information on bees. Its database and information services, including journals, teaching aides and publications, embrace not only familiar domesticated bee species managed by man for their beneficial products but also countless other bee species. All bees are integral members of the living environment, and as such play vital roles in the balance and maintenance of the world’s renewable natural resources and security of the world’s food supplies.

Bees, as the world’s most prolific plant pollinators, play a central role in the evolution, diversity, survival and success of the world’s flora upon which so many organisms rely. The world’s bees together constitute one major factor in assuring the future of the Earth’s vegetation and as such have a critical part to play in humankind’s endeavours to achieve sustainable development.

Visit Website: 
Visit The Bee World Project:

IBRA-International Bee Research Association

From BEE GIRL (Sarah Red-Laid): Lookie again!! Bee Girl is two for two this month! ABJ did a great job with their story on the work of my dear friends at International Bee Research Association - IBRA's BEEWORLD Project, and some of my goings on as well!

(Note: We are thrilled to announce that The Bee Girl will be speaking at the upcoming 2014 California State Beekeepers Convention, being held November 18-20th, at the Hyatt Regency, Valencia. For details, please see our LACBA Convention Website Page at: /2014-csba-convention-info/ or the CSBA Website at: It's going to be a great convention. Our theme this year is "Celebrating Beekeepers".)

Understanding Honey Bee Colony Losses

International Bee Research Association (IBRA)  Press Release [embargoed until 00:01 GMT on 26/2/14]  

Four papers published today in the Journal of Apicultural Research describe the results of 
surveys of beekeepers in 22 countries worldwide. Two present information on losses of honey 
bee colonies from the 2012-13 winter gathered from a total of more than 22,000 beekeepers 
together owning nearly 1 million colonies. 
The first paper1
reports colony losses from the USA for the 2012-13 winter. These losses were much higher than reported for the previous year (22.5%), but at approximately 30%, they are exactly average for losses since the recent surveys began in 2006-7. The difference between the last two years highlights the differences in the weather experienced. Amateur beekeepers tended to blame losses on factors which should be within their control, such as starvation, or weak colonies going into winter, whilst commercial beekeepers tended to blame factors outside their control such as pesticides and queen problems. The parasitic mite Varroa was a key factor reported, but the symptoms of “Colony Collapse Disorder” were low down the list of reported causes. 
Meanwhile, the second paper2
reports the results from standardised questionnaires developed by members of the COLOSS research association from 19 mainly European countries. For the first time, the authors have attempted to model the influence of various factors on the losses, with some striking results. Significant factors identified with colony losses were the age of queen bees in colonies going 
into winter, the treatment of varroa, and access by foraging honey bees to agricultural crops such as oilseed rape and maize. This could support the current concerns about pesticides widely used on these crops, but there is also growing evidence that the decline for bees in areas of intensive agriculture may be because mass flowering crops provide food for only part of the year in a landscape otherwise devoid of bee forage, and also that these crops may provide poor quality food for bees.
The third paper3
documents for the first time colony losses in Luxembourg from 2010-2012. Although a small country, 
the losses reported seem to fit in well with what is known of losses in neighbouring countries. 
Finally, in contrast to these results from the northern hemisphere, the last paper4
reports data from South Africa. Whilst these losses (29.6%) are comparable with those reported elsewhere, the causes seem to be different. The main cause reported by the South African beekeepers is the Cape honey bee, which acts as a social parasite in colonies of the more common savannah honey bee. The authors emphasise that the causes of colony loss experienced in the northern hemisphere, although present in South Africa, appear to be less threatening there, and uniquely African factors seem to be more significant. 
IBRA Science Director and JAR Senior Editor Norman Carreck says: “We are now eight years into the 
story of increased honey bee colony losses, and these new papers increase our confidence that we are beginning to understand the causes” 
International Bee Research Association -  
The world's longest established apicultural research publishers.
Norman Carreck, Science Director, IBRA