An Observaion of Gut Microbial Community Structure of Apis Mellifera

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological and Environmental Sciences

Date of Award

Fall 2022


Honey bees are a critical pollinator species, highly valued by the agricultural industry due to their widespread commercial applications, utilized in over 90 different crop pollination and rotation techniques throughout North and South American, Asian, and African continents. In the recent decades, a substantial decline in honey bee colony populations has been observed and documented worldwide. The United States has recorded a continuous reduction in managed honey bee populations since the 1940s, reaching a historic low in 2005, with the USDA documenting a decline from 6 million to 2.5 million managed honey bee colonies throughout the last six decades (USDA, 2022). In 2006, a detrimental condition was observed in European and American honey bee populations, marked by accelerated bee loss of honey bee colonies, and termed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), with a national average of 28.7 percent of managed hives not surviving through the winter. Many different factors are theorized to contribute to CCD, but more research is needed to understand if predation, the environment, or microbial factors play key roles in hive decline. A microbiome is an assortment of microscopic entities, which can include bacteria, fungi, and viruses, and reside inside and on the bodies of humans, animals, and insects. The gut microbiome has been determined to play a role in overall human and animal health, influencing digestion, growth and development, metabolism, immune response, and neurological function. Research is gradually increasing, analyzing the microbiome of invertebrates, but only a limited number of studies to date, have investigated the impact of honey bees gut microbiome upon the overall health of the hive. In the current study, we characterized the intestinal microbiota of nurse honey bees sampled from strong and weak hives in the summer and fall seasons by qPCR analysis. The conditions of the environment of each sample hive were also observed and recorded. Our results suggested that the bacterial community structure residing in the gut of nurse honey bees was consistent against various environmental factors examined. Differences were observed in the environmental variables, temperature, humidity, and insect predation, between strong hives and weak hives.


DongWon Choi

Subject Categories

Biology | Life Sciences