The process for dispersing biological materials using bees is known as entomovectoring, or bee vectoring. UC Cooperative Extension Entomology and Biologicals Advisor, Dr. Surendra Dara has been exploring the process for nearly a decade. Experiments involving bee vectoring have been going on for more than 30 years. However, it is only in recent years that the technology is being made more commercially available. In the latest Making Sense of Biologicals episode, Dara said that the process itself is rather simple and can be quite effective.
“[The bees] walk through this material, they pick up the material, and when they are visiting these different plants and flowers they distribute that inoculum,” Dara noted. “That inoculum is a biopesticide either killing or infecting insects like mites and it can antagonize plant pathogens.”
The process of using bee vectoring to deliver beneficial fungi can be quite simple. Dara explained that dispersal entomopathogenic fungi, on the other hand, can bring up questions of safety for the bees. There are natural safety mechanisms at play when using bee vectoring. Generally, the vast majority of the inoculum material has been delivered before bees reenter the hive. Temperatures inside beehives are also typically higher than what most fungi can tolerate.
Dara said using bee vectoring for delivering entomopathogenic fungi can also provide added benefits. The amount of material that does actually make it back into the hive can help to address certain pests of bees such as varroa mites. “Beauveria and Metarhizium kind of materials can be used to control these mites that attack bees,” Dara explained.
Listen to the full episode with Dr. Surendra Dara.
‘Making Sense of Biologicals’ is a series from AgNet West that dives into various topics with unbiased experts in the field of biologics to help the industry better understand the product category.
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